Diabetic RetinaScreen introduces two-yearly screening pathway for eligible participants

Diabetic RetinaScreen (DRS), the National Diabetic Retinal Screening Programme, is introducing a two-yearly screening pathway for screening participants who are deemed eligible.


Until now, DRS has invited programme participants for diabetic retinal screening once a year. This will now change to a two-yearly appointment for people who fulfil certain criteria. If a person has received a result of ‘no retinopathy’ from their previous two screenings, their next DRS screening invitation will be two years from the time of their last screen. The new pathway will reduce the number of screening appointments and reduce unnecessary clinic visits and examinations. Other countries that offer two-yearly screening intervals include Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Scotland.


Professor David Keegan, Clinical Director of Diabetic RetinaScreen said: “International evidence shows that if a person has two consecutive results of ‘no retinopathy’, it is safe for them to attend their screening appointment every two years. People who have had two consecutive results of ‘no retinopathy’ have been found to be at very low risk of progressing to retinopathy between screens.”


If a person is suitable to avail of a two-yearly screening, DRS will let them know. They will then be invited for screening every two years. Then, if their next screening results detect retinopathy, they will be returned to annual screening or referred for treatment.


Prof Keegan added: “It is important that people who have diabetes continue to attend for their screening test when they are invited. And if a person has sight loss, they should not wait to receive an invitation from DRS. They should contact their GP, eye doctor or optician immediately for advice. When the condition is caught early, treatment is effective at reducing or preventing damage to sight.”


Professor Niall O’Higgins, Chair of the National Screening Advisory Committee (NSAC), acknowledged the implementation of the new pathway. He said: “The National Screening Advisory Committee (NSAC) is an independent advisory committee that advises the Minister for Health on all new proposals for population-based screening programmes and revisions to existing programmes, in line with international best practice. The NSAC considered and approved a formal application from the Diabetic RetinaScreen Programme to extend the interval between screens from 1 to 2 years for people with diabetes who are at low risk of developing sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy, and recommended to the Minister that he approve the modification to the Programme.


“In making this recommendation, the NSAC also highlighted the importance of communicating and reassuring eligible participants of the changes, and I am pleased to see the early implementation by the Diabetic RetinaScreen Programme of the new pathway.” People who have questions about diabetic retinopathy are invited to contact the Freephone line on 1800 45 45 55 or email [email protected].