Published: 30/05/2002, Volume II2, No. 5807 Page 22 23

We read with interest the article 'Diabetes patients denied eye checks' (news, 11 April).

It raised awareness of the fact that the General Ophthalmic Services sight test does not cover diabetic screening and we urge primary care trusts to discuss locally the establishment of properly funded programmes.

Two recent reports, one in the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians (1998), and the other in the journal Eye (2001), recognised that optometrists can be effective in screening people for diabetic retinopathy.

This is also acknowledged in recent guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, entitled Management of type-2 diabetes:

retinopathy - screening and early management (www. nice. org. uk) and guidelines from its Scottish equivalent, the Health Technology Board for Scotland.

The College of Optometrists provided clinical input into both. As a public benefit body, the college wholeheartedly supports the annual screening of patients with diabetes for retinopathy, since this is clearly in their interest.

Helen Stanforth Head of professional services College of Optometrists