Diabetic Retinal Screening

Diabetic Eye Screening underwent massive change nationally with the introduction of digital imaging at the beginning of 2007. However, the programme now seems to be running relatively smoothly with some counties offering screening via a mobile screening van, others within the hospital environment, others through local optometrist practices and yet others have a myriad combination of these three methods.

In Dorset, since our screening was previously undertaken by optometrists, the decision was made to largely continue to offer patients screening in optometric practices although some screening is performed in Poole, Bournemouth and Dorset County Hospitals. Usually, those patients seen within the hospital environment are those at risk of sight threatening retinopathy.

The Dorset Diabetic Eye Screening program is available to all diabetics registered with a GP in Dorset. This means that it is possible that some patients who live in Dorset are not eligible for the program and some patients who live in the surrounding counties are entitled to the Dorset scheme.

Some practices simply capture digital images, some take the images and grade them and some practices take the images, grade them and if unsuitable will examine the patient with a slit lamp biomicroscope in order to determine the level of retinopathy present.

In Dorset, there is no minimum limit to the number of patients that must be seen if the practice simply wishes to image patients. However, in order for a practice to be considered for the diabetic eye screening service, a practice has to meet three criteria:

  1. It has to demonstrate a need for the screening in the area
  2. It needs to have someone willing and able to complete the City and Guilds NVQ level 3 in Retinal Screening that person now needs to be an Optometrist and therefore the number of units required will be reduced because of their current professional qualifications
  3. The practice must have, or be prepared to buy, a digital retinal camera of a type recommended by the screening service.

If a practitioner also wishes to grade images in addition to taking them, then that practitioner needs to grade a minimum of 500 image sets per year and complete further units of the Retinal Screening NVQ Certificate. At present, the Dorset Screening Programme are not accepting any additional graders, (there simply aren't enough patients to go round) but as people leave the area or retire, no doubt opportunities will arise.

If a practitioner also wishes to do slit lamp retinopathy disease grade then that practitioner must first be an experienced grader and be able to grade a minimum of 100 patients per year by slit lamp. Again, because there are even fewer patients who cannot be clearly imaged, there are even fewer slit lamp examiners.

As the list of practitioners and practices who are on the screening programme is constantly changing, an optometrist wishing to join the Dorset Diabetic Retinal Screening Programme or a practice or patient wishing to find a practice in their local area who offers screening should contact the screening office in Ferndown below:

Dorset Diabetic Eye Screening Programme 
1st Floor Acorn Building
St Leonards Hospital
241 Ringwood Road
BH24 2RR

Tel: 0345 608 1307 
Fax: (01202) 851221 
Email: diabetic.eyescreen@dorset.nhs.uk


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Visual Impairment

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