The HSE is reminding all people with diabetes who are over the age of 12, that they can avail of free retinal screening.
Diabetic RetinaScreen is the HSE's National Diabetic Retinal Screening Programme - it offers free annual screening for diabetic retinopathy, which is a common complication of diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness among working age people in Ireland. However the condition is largely treatable if caught early enough through regular screening.
Since 2013, this screening programme has detected retinopathy in almost 4,000 people, many of whom would not have even known they had the condition until it progressed to a more serious stage.
"There are approximately 200,000 people living with diabetes in Ireland, with 10-15% at risk of sight-threatening retinopathy. Just over 60% of those eligible currently take part in the programme - this is growing steadily year on year, but we really need to highlight the importance of screening for those who have not yet registered for the programme," explained the programme's clinical director, Mr David Keegan.
He pointed out that diabetic retinopathy may not produce any symptoms or affect sight until it is already at an advanced stage.
"Anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Regular eye screening, using specialised digital photography, can detect the condition at an early stage, before any noticeable symptoms or changes occur in sight.
"We urge everyone to talk to family members living with diabetes about the importance of regular retinal screening. It's simple and free and it could save your sight," Mr Keegan said.
He also highlighted that any recommended follow-up investigation or treatment of diabetic retinopathy is provided free of charge as part of the programme.
For more information on the programme, or to self-register, call 1800 45 45 55 or click here
The HSE highlighted this issue to coincide with World Diabetes Day (November 14).
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