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Diabetic Eye Screening Programme

What the service does
Who provides the service
How to access the service
Opening hours
Useful links

What the service does

Northern Ireland Diabetic Eye Screening Programme logo

The Northern Ireland Diabetic Eye Screening Programme (NIDESP) offers a free service to all eligible patients as a part of your overall diabetes care.

Screening can detect changes in the retina of your eye at an early stage, before you are aware of them. If these changes are detected in time, treatment is very effective at preventing sight loss in the majority of people. It is therefore important to have your eyes screened and to attend all screening appointments.

If you are registered as having diabetes and are aged 12 years or over, you will be invited. The only exception is people who have no light perception in both eyes.

At the screening appointment, you will have two or more photographs taken of each eye using a special camera. The test is painless and takes about 15 minutes.
If you are aged 50 years or over, you will need to have drops put in your eyes about 15 minutes before the test to dilate your pupils. This helps us take a good quality photograph.

The drops may cause some stinging for a few seconds. After about 15 minutes your sight will become blurred and it may be difficult to focus on objects near you. This blurring can last for several hours, making it unsafe for you to drive or operate machinery.

Eye drops may also be used in a small number of younger people. If this is necessary, it will be discussed with you at your appointment.

A letter will be sent directly to you and copied to your GP within three weeks. You will not get your result at the end of the test as the photographs will need to be looked at by a specially trained person.

Most people will have a normal screening test and be invited for screening again on a yearly or 2 yearly basis. However, you will be contacted for further assessment if:

  • the photographs are not clear enough to give an accurate reading
  • you have eye changes that need follow-up treatment at a hospital eye clinic
  • other eye conditions are detected by chance, which need investigation.

Who provides the service

This service is provided by trained Ophthalmic screeners who inform you on the day of your appointment of the process.

How to access the service

Details about you, and information relating to your diabetes, are collected from your GP by the screening programme and updated every year. This includes your name, date of birth, address, important details about your diabetes, and information on the medication (if any) you are taking to control it.

Your information will not be passed outside the health service.

If you do not wish to have your information passed to the screening programme, you should discuss this with your GP.

There is an online booking service available to patients that can be used at any time and offers a choice of locations, dates and times for your eye screening appointment. Please follow the guidance on your letter when issued to you.

Opening hours

The Diabetic Eye Screening Programme Booking Office opening hours are:

Monday to Friday 8:00am to 4:00pm

Tel Number : 028 9615 7600

Useful links

Diabetic Eye Screening Programme (also known as Diabetic Retinopathy Screening) | HSC Public Health Agency (

Diabetes UK – Know diabetes. Fight diabetes. | Diabetes UK

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