Diabetic retinopathy screening

Standards for diabetic retinopathy screening

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes which affects the eyes. It occurs when the small blood vessels in the retina, which is at the back of the eye, become blocked or leak. Untreated diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common causes of sight loss in Scotland, and the fifth-leading cause of global blindness.

In its early stages, there are no symptoms so people with diabetes may not realise they have diabetic retinopathy. Screening is important because if the condition is caught early, treatment is effective at reducing or preventing visual impairment and sight loss.

We have developed standards to support staff and ensure the highest standards in diabetic retinopathy screening are achieved. Each standard also details what people, patients and their representatives, and the public can expect of these services in Scotland.

Purpose and scope

This document specifies a minimum set of performance standards for diabetic retinopathy screening and can be used to reinforce national consistency and drive improvement in diabetic retinopathy services across Scotland.

The 2016 Healthcare Improvement Scotland diabetic retinopathy screening standards cover the following areas:

  • governance and leadership
  • call-recall
  • attendance and uptake
  • the screening process
  • referral, and
  • treatment.

Standards overview

The sections below will give you an overview on each of the 6 standards we have developed in relation to diabetic retinopathy screening. 

Detailed information including the rationale and criteria for each standard can be found by downloading the full publication. 

Scotland has an effective national diabetic retinopathy screening service.

All eligible people are invited for diabetic retinopathy screening.

The number of people attending diabetic retinopathy screening is maximised within the principles of informed choice.

Diabetic retinopathy screening is safe, effective and person-centred.

People who require referral and have been screened are referred to ophthalmology services for assessment in line with DRS Collaborative referral protocols.

People requiring treatment can access nationally approved treatments in a timely manner.

Consultation report

The above additional report details the consultation process we followed to produce our final standards.

Published Date: 8 January 2016


What is a standard?

A standard is a statement of an expected level of service which demonstrates delivery of person-centred, safe and effective health care, and promotes understanding, comparison and improvement of that care.

Standards can be used for national consistency and/or for local improvement.