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South East London Diabetic Eye Screening Programme

Preventing sight loss from diabetes

Coronavirus: diabetic eye screening programme update

We are following advice issued by Public Health England to offer screening to certain patients first who are more at risk of developing sight threatening changes. This includes people who had some early diabetic changes at their last screening appointment, and newly diagnosed patients. Please visit our coronavirus (COVID-19) update page for more information.

What to expect at your diabetic eye screening appointment

Peter has type 2 diabetes and knows how important it is to attend his diabetes eye screening appointment. In this film Peter talks about his experience to show patients and their families that it is safe to get their eyes checked during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • What to expect at your diabetic eye screening appointment – video transcript

    Peter: My name is Peter and I have type 2 diabetes.

    When I receive letters from the diabetic clinic to attend for eye screening, I always go because it's very important, it can be the difference between going blind and being able to see properly.

    I have some friends who are also diabetic, I worry that they don't care for themselves as much as they should do. They tend not to take their appointments as seriously as they can do and I worry that later on in life, they may struggle with the diabetes and one of the possibilities is that they can go blind.

    As I'm a cricket coach, eyesight is very important. I love watching cricket, especially with the youngsters, and if I didn't have that pleasure I would be very disappointed.

    When I came into the appointment I wasn't sure what to expect but it all seemed very safe and organised.


    Receptionist: Hello good morning, are you here for diabetic eye screening?

    Peter: I am.

    It was all very calm and not at all crowded.

    Steve: My name's Steve and I'll be doing your appointment today, do you want to come with me?

    Peter: The staff were very friendly.

    Steve: You could take a seat in the green chair please.

    Peter: They explained they were going to wear protective gear and it seemed like they had thought of everything.

    First they tested my eyes, then they put some drops in, one in each eye. Then I had to wait for them to work. Then they took some photos of my eyes to see if there are any changes.

    Steve: And open both eyes nice and big. So Peter, these are the images we've taken, it's an example of one of them.

    Peter: They told me that if I looked after my diabetes, that it would also help my eyes stay healthy, it was all very easy.

    I got the results in a letter a couple of weeks later. My letter said that my eyes were healthy, so I don't need to worry.

    Sight is important to me as it helps me stay independent and allows me to see the people around me who I care about.

    If a simple test like this can keep my eyes healthy, then it's definitely worth it.

    Text: If you have received an appointment letter, we look forward to welcoming you.


Clinical advice

If you need advice from the clinical team, email

Contact us by email for:

  • clinical advice about your previous screening results
  • if you have been referred to the eye department, but do not yet have an appointment
  • if any of your contact details (such as address or mobile phone number) have changed
  • if you have any questions about your screening results or concerns about the delay to screening
  • if you are pregnant, please notify us as we will need to bring your appointment forward due to the increased risk of eye complications developing during pregnancy.

Contact us by telephone on 020 7188 1979 if you do not have access to email.

If you have any sudden problems or symptoms with your vision or eyes, please contact your local optician or GP for advice, or attend eye casualty.


We are doing everything we can to support GPs and your patients during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

If you need advice from our clinical team, please email or call 020 7188 1979. We will continue to receive monthly lists of all your diabetic patients, including newly diagnosed patients, via the existing system.

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in people of working age in the UK; however if it is detected early it can be easily treated. Diabetes can affect the small blood vessels in the part of your eye called the retina. This is known as diabetic retinopathy. Regular screening for diabetic retinopathy is essential to help prevent sight loss from diabetes.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy means changes to the retina (the seeing part at the back of the eye) and is a complication that can affect anyone with diabetes. 

It is treatable, but may have no obvious symptoms, so you might not know you have it until it is well advanced. You can find lots more information about the condition on the NHS website diabetic retinopathy pages.

Screening for diabetic retinopathy

Guy’s and St Thomas’ provide the Diabetic Eye Screening Programme for people living in south east London. We screen the eyes of people with diabetes to detect the early stages of diabetic retinopathy using special digital cameras. Most people have no signs of diabetic changes but must be seen each year to ensure this remains the case.

If we do detect changes, we will refer you directly to see a specialist eye doctor at a local hospital.

There is a national screening programme for diabetic retinopathy and all people with diabetes should have their eyes screened regularly.

Screening clinics

Screening takes place in several locations. See the clinics page for more information.

Useful links

    • Diabetes UK website – information about diabetes and support available to people living with diabetes.


Please visit the main Trust coronavirus (COVID-19) page for more information. 


Do you need to change your appointment, or have any queries about our service?

Tel: 020 7188 1979

Email: gst-tr.seldesp.

Information leaflets

NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Programme information leaflets.