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Early screening vital to prevent blindness

FOLLOWING an article on this topic by your health correspondent “HSE to blame for loss of sight” (March 26), I would like to register the concern of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) at the HSE’s low prioritisation of diabetic retinopathy screening.

Diabetes affects one in every 100 adult Europeans and can affect the blood vessels in the eye, causing damage to the retina. Diabetic retinopathy is treatable if caught early — but early detection is vital. A national diabetic screening programme was recommended by the Department of Health and Children in 2006 and a pilot programme for the west was approved in 2007 but has yet to begin. According to the HSE, the programme will be implemented in the west before the end of the year and should be fully operational around the country by 2011.

More than 80 people with diabetic retinopathy were referred to NCBI’s services in 2008 alone. How many more people will lose their sight over the next two years before this programme is up and running?

Des Kenny

Chief Executive

National Council for the Blind of Ireland

Whitworth Rd


Dublin 9


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