Inside the NWL Diabetic Eye Screening Programme


Katie O'Leary
Senior Team Leader at the North West London Diabetic Eye Screening Program


I work at the North West London Diabetic Eye Screening Programme (NWL DESP), the largest programme in London and one of the biggest in England! We are a friendly team of 60 staff members that look after the eye health of approximately 150,000 plus people with diabetes across North West London.

The population of people with diabetes is increasing year on year and in the last year, we added over 15,000 new patients to our system. Many of us speak a variety of the most common languages spoken in North West London so we are well equipped to deal with the diversity in the area.

We pride ourselves on being an NHS service catering to all walks of life. We have many different projects to help make eye screening as accessible as possible to all, from people who are homeless, those visiting temples and mosques to those with learning disabilities and autism and even screening at secure establishments within North West London.

We offer weekend and late appointments across 27 venues in North West London and our friendly bookings team are always happy to rearrange appointments where needed.

Why are we so important?

Well, last year (April 2019-March 2020) 27% of our patients were detected with sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy is a disease that affects the blood vessels of the retina, at the back of the eye. Having high blood sugar levels can cause the walls of the vessels to rupture allowing blood and fatty deposits to be left on the retina.

Most of these patients would not have any symptoms, but by identifying the disease early, sight can be saved and most patients will be able to carry on with their normal lives.  

All this is detected by eye experts who examine four images of the retina taken by a fundus camera (shown in the photo).  In the UK, diabetic retinopathy used to be the number one cause of blindness in the working population. However, thanks to these yearly tests this is no longer the case.

Investing just 30 minutes of your time to have this painless procedure will let you and your health care team know whether your eyes are healthy, stable or whether any changes have occurred. So, please ensure you go to your diabetic eye screening appointment every year.

Attend your appointment

Scan the QR code above using the camera on your phone for further details of Eye Screening in multiple different languages!


Katie O'Leary

Senior Team Leader at the North West London Diabetic Eye Screening Program

Katie has worked within the Screening service for the past 5 years; screening patients and managing overall program.

Katie’s special interests are Exercise and Health Science particularly Cardiac Rehabilitation.