85,000 people with diabetes in London risk losing sight

Leading health charity Diabetes UK warns today that more than 85,000 people with diabetes in London are at increased risk of losing their sight because they are not being screened for retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in the UK’s working-age population.

The latest figures published by the Department of Health show that 28.2 per cent of people with diabetes aged 12 and over did not receive digital retinal screening in the period October 2007 to September 2008.

Retinal screening is used to spot signs of retinopathy, a condition that occurs when blood vessels in the retina of the eye become blocked, leaky or grow haphazardly. If left untreated can damage vision and ultimately cause blindness.

Roz Rosenblatt, London Regional Manager at Diabetes UK, said: “It is appalling that thousands of people with diabetes are still not having their eyes checked. The tragedy is that if retinopathy is identified early enough, treated properly and their diabetes managed well, blindness can be prevented in 90 per cent of cases.

“Retinal screening services in England are patchy. PCTs need to ensure they are reaching out to all these eligible people to invite them for screening, and provide a service that meets national quality standards as dictated by the National Screening Committee. In turn people with diabetes must make every effort to get to these vital appointments. If they have problems attending they can talk to their healthcare team about what help and support is available.”

For further information please contact Maria Lam or Rupi Gohlar at pressteam@diabetes.org.uk.
A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
The abbreviation for computed tomography, a scan that generates a series of cross-sectional x-ray images Full medical glossary
A disorder caused by insufficient or absent production of the hormone insulin by the pancreas, or because the tissues are resistant to the effects. Full medical glossary
An organ with the ability to make and secrete certain fluids. Full medical glossary
The light sensitive membrane that lines the back, inner surface of the eye and enables sight. Full medical glossary
Relating to the retina, the innermost layer of the eye. Full medical glossary
Any disorder of the retina, the innermost layer of the eye. Full medical glossary
A way to identify people who may have a certain condition, among a group of people who may or may not seem to Full medical glossary