More than 70,000 patients screened through DiabeticRetina Screen in 100 locations in past 2 years

  • More than 70,000 patients screened through DiabeticRetina Screen in over 100 locations
  • Register for National Diabetic Eye Disease Screening Programme growing by 700+ new names month-on-month 
  • Equity of service throughout Ireland
  • 8000 people screened have been referred to one of the seven treatment centres
  • All 153,000 registered on DiabeticRetina Screen have received invitation to be screened
  • Diabetic retinopathy is one of the five main causes of sight loss in Ireland and the leading cause of blindness among the working age population

More than 70,000 diabetic patients have had their eyes screened under the new National Diabetic Retinal Screening Programme, with over 700 new registrations to the programme per month, delegates at the Annual Conference of eye doctors in Ireland[1] heard today (Thursday, 14th May).

Speaking at the Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO) meeting in Westport today, Mr David Keegan, Eye Surgeon and Clinical Director of DiabeticRetina Screen, said,

“We are very pleased to report that the uptake for the DiabeticRetina Screen is showing an upwardly trend, with on average 700 to 1000 new names being added to the register each month.     In the first round of screening, more than 70,000 people with diabetes have been screened in Ireland in over 100 locations since the programme commenced in 2013. 

Mr Keegan added,

“It is a very positive development that greater numbers are consenting to be involved in the programme which aims to prevent vision impairment and blindness due to diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes.  Equity of access for people living all over the country remains a priority of the programme.”

The National Diabetic Retinal Screening Programme, a Government-funded programme, offers free, regular screening and treatment of diabetic retinopathy to people with diabetes aged 12 and over.   

Diabetes is now considered the fastest growing epidemic by both the World Health Organisation and the United Nations.  In Ireland, it is estimated that 191,000 people have diabetes and this will increase to 233,000 by 2020.   People with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy which affects the small blood vessels in the lining at the back of the eye and can lead to deterioration in vision. 

To date, 153,000 are registered with DiabeticRetina Screen, all of whom have received their letter of invitation to be screened. 

Commenting on the importance of early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy, Mr Keegan said,

“Diabetic retinopathy may not have any symptoms or may not affect sight in the early stages.  The national screening programme will reduce sight loss among people with diabetes as a result of early detection and effective treatment.  We urge people to make the follow up call when they receive their letter of invitation so an appointment for screening can be arranged.

The establishment of the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program and the HSE’s National Programme for Eye Care has provided a real opportunity to achieve improved outcomes for people with the threat of sight loss in Ireland.”

Five people go blind in Ireland every week or 260 people per annum.   Diabetic retinopathy is one of the five main causes of sight loss in Ireland and the leading cause of blindness among the working age population.  This is despite the fact that 70-75% of blindness is preventable with early diagnosis and treatment. 

Mr Keegan concluded,

“Continued investment in cost-effective interventions such as the DiabeticRetina Screen programme is essential to ensure eye diseases which are treatable are detected early and unnecessary sight loss prevented.  Since the introduction of the Diabetic Retina Screening programme in the UK, the eye disease is no longer the leading cause of blindness in the working age population in England.”



For media enquiries contact:

Ciara Keenan, Communications Manager, Irish College of Ophthalmologists



[1] Over 170 delegates from the international and national ophthalmic community are attending the three day Irish College of Ophthalmologists Annual Conference (13-15th May) to hear about the latest developments in treatment and research for eye diseases and delivery of eye care in Ireland. 


15th May 2015