Diabetic eye disease

This leaflet explains the risks of developing diabetic eye disease. It also provides information on diabetic eye screening.


All people with diabetes are at risk of developing eye problems.

The most common complication is retinopathy, which is explained more in this video and on this page

  • The risk can be reduced by keeping your diabetes well controlled and by having regular eye screenings 
  • Eye tests by an optician are free for people with diabetes; you should have your sight checked once a year
  • If your vision changes suddenly contact your doctor at once 
  • You may have noticed changes in your sight around the time you found you had diabetes. Your sight may become blurred at times due to higher than normal blood sugar levels affecting the lenses in your eyes. It is better to have your eyes tested for glasses when your diabetes is well controlled

Diabetic eye screening 

  • This is done at your local retinal screening unit, and should be done yearly Eye drops may be used to dilate your pupils to allow the back of your eye to be checked for changes due to diabetes 
  • The eye drops may affect your sight so you may need someone to take you home. You will not be able to drive until your sight returns to normal
  • Take sunglasses as your eyes will be sensitive to light 
  • A photograph of the back of your eye will be taken and stored on computer, so next time the pictures can be compared 

If you are found to have eye problems you will be referred to an eye specialist.

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