Images are graded depending on the level of retinopathy found. The different stages of retinopathy are:
No diabetic retinopathy (normal)
Your test result showed that your images appear normal. This means you are at very little risk of sight-threatening retinopathy at this time.
Background diabetic retinopathy
Your test result showed that you do have some background diabetic retinopathy. This means there are some small changes to the blood vessels in the retina at the back of your eyes as a result of diabetes. You do not need any treatment and these changes can appear and disappear during each visit. It is important you manage your diabetes as well as possible to reduce the risk of developing more significant damage.
Pre-proliferative diabetic retinopathy
Your test result showed that you have pre-proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This means that you have more severe changes to the blood vessels in the retina at the back of your eyes as a result of your diabetes. As this increases your risk of developing problems with your vision we will monitor you more frequently (three, six or nine monthly). It is important you manage your diabetes as well as possible to reduce the risk of changes developing further.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy
Your test result showed that you have sight-threatening retinopathy. This means significant changes were found in the retina at the back of your eye. These changes need to be assessed promplty by an ophthalmic doctor in the hosptial eye department and treatment organised accordingly. This will happen within six weeks of your screening appointment.
Your test result showed that you have maculopathy. This means that changes were found in the part of the eye that is important for your sharp vision (macula). This means that you will require closer monitoring using a particular type of photography equipment (Optical Coherence Tomography – OCT) in the retinal screening clinic or you will need to be referred to the hospital eye service for treatment.
Severe complications of diabetes
If more significant changes of diabetes are left untreated, it can lead to severe complications which eventually lead to blindness. These patients will most likely require surgery and other treatments and the visual potential is significantly reduced.
Sometimes it is difficult to obtain a good quality photography of the retina which can be assessed. if this situation arises, then you will be invited to attend a clinic where you will be examined by an eye doctor and any further management will be organised.
On occasions as a result of attending the diabetic eye screening we may find other non-diabetic eye conditions. This may necessitate referral to the hospital and your GP will be informed.
Digital surveillance clinic
As part of the South Tees Diabetic Eye Screening Programme, we offer a virtual digital surveillance clinic. The diabetic eye changes can have varying levels of severity not impacting on the vision. These changes do not require treatment but will necessitate more frequent monitoring. Also, patients who have had treatment and are stable may require more frequent monitoring. The frequency of monitoring could be three months, six months, nine months and 12 months.
When attending the clinic, the patient can have only digital photography of the retina. If required, an additional scan of the eye will be obtained using optical coherence tomography (OCT).These images will be reviewed by one of the diabetic eye screening consultants and the result sent to you.
How can maculopathy affect my sight?
Maculopathy means diabetic changes in the macular area of the retina (see anatomy of the eye).
This type of change can cause:
- Difficulty with fine details (e.g. when reading or watching television)
- Fluctuations in vision from hour to hour or day to day
- Blurred, hazy or double vision
- Difficulty seeing at night or in low light
- Being particularly sensitive to glare and light
- Having difficulty focusing
This image illustrates the changes in the vision of a patient with diabetic maculopathy.