A total of £27m has been allocated to buy digital eye screening cameras for use in tracking retinopathy in people who have diabetes.

Announcing the funding, health minister, David Lammy, said the cameras could help 1000 people a year by triggering preventive action against visual impairments, including blindness.

Digital retinopathy cameras provide precise digital images of the eye that can be compared over time. Clinicians are alerted much earlier to deterioration in the patient’s eye than through other screening methods.

The investment over three years will enable every primary care trust in England to provide eye screening services for all people with diabetes by 2007. The helps to fulfil the requirements of the diabetes national service framework published earlier this year.

Mr Lammy said, “This equipment will help the NHS make diabetes-related blindness a thing of the past.”

Paul Streets, chief executive of the charity, Diabetes UK, commented, “Too many people with diabetes currently lose their sight when there is no need. Effective eye screening will help to start put that right.”