What to expect at your screening appointment

Patient receiving welcome to the eye screening clinic

What happens when I first arrive?
You will be greeted by a receptionist, given an information leaflet and asked to make yourself comfortable on a seat.

Soon afterwards you will meet one of our screeners. He or she will explain the screening process and ask you some questions about your diabetes and your eyesight. 

  • where you live (in case you have moved house)
  • your usual phone number (in case we have an urgent reason to contact you)
  • your mobile phone number (if you want us to send you a text message appointment reminder next year)
  • your email address (should you wish us to use this to communicate with you in future)
  • who your GP is (in case this has changed)
  • about your ethnicity (since we are required to show that we are offering equal access to all local people).
  • Where you would like to go to, should your eyes ever need treatment for diabetic eye disease.

What happens next?
The screener will measure your blood pressure (since high blood pressure can cause or worsen eye disease) and will put some drops in your eyes. These drops open up the pupil of your eye (the black dot in the centre of the eye) to allow clear photographs of the back of the eye to be taken. 

The drops take 15-20 minutes to work and occasionally a bit longer. You will be asked to sit down in the waiting area to wait for the drops to work.

When will the photographs be taken?
After the drops have had time to work you will notice that your eyesight will become slightly blurry. Around this time you will be called by another screener to have photographs of the back of your eyes taken.

You will be asked to sit down in front of a special camera, put your chin on a rest, and lean your forehead against a flat band. This helps you keep your head still so that the photographs are not blurred by small movements.

Does the camera use a flash?
The camera uses a flash to take high quality images of the back of each eye. A few photos are taken of each eye and the photographer chooses the best ones. The photographer will check that the photographs look all right. You can see the photographs yourself if you want. The screening is then finished.

What happens after my eyes are photographed?
Your photographs are looked at carefully over the next few days by a grader. He/she determines whether any diabetic eye disease (diabetic retinopathy) can be seen. If some diabetic retinopathy is present, he/she decides what stage it has reached.

The photographs of people who are found to have more serious diabetic retinopathy are re-checked by another grader. A letter telling you the results of your screening is then sent to you. Your GP also receives a report.  If you are pregnant then the obstetric team looking after your ante-natal care will also be sent a report.

What happens if I have bad diabetic retinopathy?
If you have diabetic retinopathy that might in future threaten your vision, a letter is sent to an eye specialist at the hospital eye service that you have previously chosen.

They will arrange an appointment for an ophthalmology expert to examine your eyes, and if necessary arrange treatment