Diabetic Eye Screening

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes before you become pregnant you will be offered an eye test to check for diabetic retinopathy and other eye problems caused by diabetes. This is the same as the routine eye screening you have because of your diabetes. You do not need to have diabetic eye screening if you did not have diabetes before pregnancy.

Diabetic retinopathy is caused when diabetes affects the small blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye. If caught early it is easily treatable.

The screening staff will put drops in your eyes to make your pupils look larger so the retinas can be seen more clearly. Digital photographs will be taken. Your vision may be blurred for up to six to eight hours after the drops have been put in, so you will not be able to drive during this time and should arrange a lift home or use public transport. You may also be sensitive to bright light during this time, so sunglasses are recommended. You will need to bring your usual spectacles with you.

Rarely, the drops may cause a sudden, dramatic rise of pressure within the eye. Symptoms include:

  • Pain or severe discomfort
  • Redness of the white of the eye
  • Constantly blurred sight.

If this happens, you should go to the Emergency Department of your local hospital.

The test is offered at, or soon after, your first antenatal clinic appointment and after 28 weeks. If early stages of retinopathy are found at your first screen, you will be offered another screen at around 16 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. If serious retinopathy is detected, you will be referred to an eye specialist.


  • No retinopathy.
  • Early signs of retinopathy.
  • More serious retinopathy that requires referral to a specialist.

You will receive a letter within six weeks of your screening test.

For more information visit www.nhs.uk/diabeticeye