adult screening programme
Damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina in the back of the eye is called retinopathy. This is more common in people with diabetes. Damage to these vessels causes blood to leak (haemorrhage) in to the retina or other parts of the eye. This can seriously affect your vision and may cause blindness.
Read more about diabetic retinopathy on the NHS website.
UK NSC screening recommendation
The UK NSC recommends screening for diabetic retinopathy. This is based on an HTA review on the value of digital imaging in diabetic retinopathy, which found that digital imaging is an effective method for finding diabetic retinopathy.
In 2016 the UK NSC recommended changing the screening interval from every year to every 2 years for people at low risk of sight loss. This was because:
- a large study showed that it was safe to invite people in this low risk group every 2 years rather than annually
- making this change will release capacity in the NHS and lessen the inconvenience for this group of attending appointments every year
Changes to the diabetic eye screening programme
The UK NSC considers changes to screening programmes when there is strong evidence that they could improve outcomes. See our current and past proposals to modify the diabetic eye screening programme.
Supporting documents from the 2016 review
UK NSC coversheet & consultation responses diabetic retinopathy (2015)
This document summarises the review process including the public consultation comments.
Other supporting documents
- Appendix 1_Four Nations Study Group - FINAL REPORT.pdf
- Appendix 2_Rapid Review Impact of changing intervals on outcomes.pdf
- Appendix 3_Supplementary Rapid Review Impact of changing intervals on uptake.pdf
- Appendix 4_Diabetic Eye Screening Intervals v4_cost utility.pdf
- Progression of Diabetes Retinal Status and potential implications for screening intervals Leese et al 2015.pdf
Screening around the UK
The UK NSC recommends screening for this condition, however this may vary slightly depending on where you are in the UK.
Date previous review completed: 2016
Next review estimated to be completed: 2023 to 2024.
To see previous evidence reviews, visit the UK NSC archive.
Organisations interested in Diabetic retinopathy
These organisations have expressed interest in this recommendation and may submit responses to evidence reviews.
List of organisations
- Action for Blind People
- Association of British Clinical Diabetologists
- Association of Optometrists
- British Association of Retinal Screening
- College of Optometrists
- Diabetes UK
- Faculty of Public Health
- Foundation of European Nurses in Diabetes
- Institute of Diabetes in Older People
- Insulin Dependent Diabetes Trust
- International Diabetes Federation
- Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
- National Diabetes Information Service
- Primary Care Diabetes Society
- Royal College of General Practitioners
- Royal College of Nursing
- Royal College of Physicians
- Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
- Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
- Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
- Sight Research UK
- Young Diabetologists Forum
If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us.