Screening for Diabetes Complications

Screenings for diabetes complications should take place annually
Screenings for diabetes complications should take place annually

Complications of diabetes can be a scary topic for anyone with diabetes, but if spotted early, they can be prevented from being a problem.

By getting checked each year, you’ll put yourself in the best position to beat the threat of complications.

Types of diabetes screenings

For adults, make sure you’re checked at least once a year for the following diabetic complications:

Depending on your health and medical history, your healthcare team may wish to check for other problems as well.

For a full list of the health checks you should expect to receive each year, see our guide on essential health checks.

Screening for eye problems (retinopathy)

Everyone with diabetes, who is 12 years old or over, should receive a retinal examination once a year as part of the NHS retinopathy screening programme. At the screening, you will have a photograph taken of your retina, to check how healthy it is.

Screening for nerve damage and circulation

People with diabetes should have a foot examination at least once a year.

Your feet will be looked at and you can expect to be tested for the feeling in your feet, to include your sense of touch, hot and cold sensations and they may test for the circulation in your feet as well.

Screening for cholesterol

As someone with diabetes, your level of cholesterol should be tested once a year. A sample of blood will need to be taken, usually from a vein on the inside of your elbow.

The sample will be sent off for testing. After a number of days, your healthcare team should be able to inform you of the results.

Blood pressure screening

You will probably be familiar with blood pressure screening. A fabric sleeve will be put over your upper arm (usually) and pumped up to inflate the sleeve around your arm. After a number of seconds, the sleeve will then be allowed to deflate. The doctor or nurse should be able to let you know what the result is almost instantly. Whilst carrying out the test, they may also check your pulse.

Screening for kidney disease (nephropathy)

One of the easier tests to carry out, you will be asked to provide a sample of your urine.

The sample will be tested to see whether there is protein in the urine. The test can be carried out quickly. If protein is found, you will be informed.

Other screening tests

Depending on your health and medical history, your healthcare team may wish to check for other problems as well.

Screening for children

Children under 12 may be checked for some of these conditions as well, depending on their health and medical history.

Explore Complications and Screening