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A day in the life of a diabetic eye screener

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Diabetic Eye Screener and Grader Ben O'Neill shares a personal insight into what's it's like to be part of the team, providing vital eye care services to people in our local communities living with diabetes.

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A typical working day starts at 7am, when my wife or I get our children up and ready for school. I am usually in work in plenty of time to get started for 8.30am and my working day ends around 4.30pm.

Each day I may be at one of our 10 convenient locations, which can take between 20 and 60 minutes. I enjoy the drive around County Durham and Darlington and don't have a preference to where I work. Each area has different health inequalities, which brings different scenarios and challenges to my working day. I enjoy seeing different members of staff and patients.

Some patients arrive to their appointment ahead of schedule and some turn up late, or indeed not at all. It can be a worry when patients don't turn up as they could potentially have changes in their eyes due to diabetes - but we do all that we can to encourage patients to attend.

My day in clinic

I call and greet the patient into the consultation room and ask them to take a seat. I then confirm their details and ask them some diabetic and eye related questions before completing their clinical history. My ultimate aim is to make the patient feel comfortable.

Before the patient attends, they are reminded to bring any distance glasses and also not to drive to their appointment. I carry out an eye test using a Snellen chart and the patient looks through an occlude, which allows me to measure the visual acuity, one eye at a time.

I then administer eye drops, which some patients can find a little uncomfortable.   These drops dilate the pupils, allowing more light to enter the back of the eye, making it easier for me to capture a clear image of the retina.

Patients wait around 15 minutes for the eyes to dilate and then return to the screening room where I take images of the back of their eyes whilst sitting in front of a fundus camera. I see around 28 patients per day (if every patient turns up).

Once the images have been captured, I save them and inform the patient they will be looked at and graded later the same day and the results posted the same day and shared electronically with the GP.

It is evident that giving the patient an excellent experience results in the patient returning year on year. Please encourage any family members who have diabetes to attend for their eye screening each time they are invited to do so.



'Every aspect of my emergency care was dealt with quickly, efficiently and professionally with full explanations and compassion from all staff involved'.

Patient, Emergency Department, Darlington Memorial Hospital