A NATIONAL screening programme aimed at saving people from one of the most common causes of blindness gets under way in Wrexham tomorrow (Friday).
Diabetic retinopathy - a complication of diabetes that affects the blood vessels of the retina, the 'seeing' part of the eye - is present in 40% of diabetics and may lead to blindness if it's not detected early.
It is the most common cause of blindness in people of working age.
Diabetics in Wrexham will benefit from the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service for Wales when it begins tomorrow.
The new service takes over from a screening programme originally set up by Flintshire and Wrexham Local Health Groups, which has been successfully operated by local optometrists for the past three years.
The service will screen people with diabetes at regular clinics at community hospitals in Chirk and Llangollen, Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Coedpoeth, Brynteg, Pen y Maes, Prince Charles Road and Overton community health clinics. Additional clinic venues are under review.
The screening service has been working closely with GPs and the consultant diabetes specialists at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Dr Harvey and Dr Stanaway, to ensure all known patients with diabetes are sent invitations to attend for eye screening by the end of 2005.
Those who know they have diabetes are urged to undergo an eye test every year as they could be at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness if it is not detected early and correct measures taken.
Early detection allows early treatment by laser to prevent deterioration of vision.