People with diabetes in Teesside and parts of County Durham are benefiting from state of the art digital imaging equipment.
The diabetic eye screening service, which is run by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is using optical coherence tomography (OCT) at Lawson Street Health Centre in Stockton and Peterlee Community Hospital.
OCT produces a high quality 3D scan of the retina. It is used to look at the sections of a patient’s retina. It is particularly useful to see if a patient has a swelling (macular oedema) in the eye, as this scan detects whether there is any excess fluid. This would be difficult to see on a traditional 2D photograph which is used for screening.
Diabetes is a common cause of sight loss and you are at a higher risk of developing eye problems. People who have diabetes are invited for screening once a year, although some people are seen more often at one of the clinics run by the trust.
Programme lead Sue Pott said: “When patients attend their screening appointment, they have their eyes photographed as normal using a fundus camera. Our experienced retinal screeners look for any specific indicators of macular oedema and if any are detected an OCT will be carried out.
“We see around 20,000 patients at our screening service and provide screening to patients from 12 years old. I am delighted that our patients are benefiting from this cutting edge technology.
“Having this fantastic equipment on our community sites means that people don’t have to go into hospital as an outpatient for these tests, which makes it much more accessible for our patients. Hundreds of patients have benefited already.”
Consultant ophthalmologist Chrisjan Dees at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust added: “We are very lucky to have this technology. Diabetes can affect the small blood vessels at the back of your eyes, so we want to make sure we see any changes in your eye health and signs of diabetic eye disease as quickly as possible.
“Screening is so important for people who have diabetes. The sooner we detect any problems, the quicker we can treat the patients before the condition becomes worse.”
People with diabetes can help to reduce the risk of diabetic eye disease by:
- always attending their screening appointments
- controlling their blood sugar levels
- eating healthily
- stop smoking
- monitoring their blood pressure
- taking their medication as prescribed
If patients who receive screening in Stockton on Tees need to see a consultant ophthalmologist they are referred to James Cook University Hospital and patients who are screened in Hartlepool or Peterlee need to go to hospital to see a consultant, they are referred to Sunderland Eye Infirmary.
You can find out more about the trust’s service at www.nth.nhs.uk/services/diabetic-eye-screening