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Diabetes UK recommends against finger prick tests during opticians' appointments

Offering finger prick tests during opticians’ appointments could help to identify people at risk of Type 2 diabetes, a study has suggested. However, Diabetes UK have stated that finger prick tests can often be misleading, and recommend that people with with one or more risk factors should see their GP instead to see if they are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Finger prick blood glucose test

It is estimated that there are around 850,000 people in the UK who have Type 2 diabetes, but have not been diagnosed, and 50 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes show signs of complications at the time of diagnosis. Earlier diagnosis could lead to better diabetes management for those people, and help avoid such complications as heart disease, blindness and amputation.

The study from Durham University looked at five optometry practices in the north of England, with over 1,000 people taking part in the research. Of these participants, who were given a simple finger prick blood glucose test, 323 were seen to be at risk of Type 2 diabetes and advised to see their GP for further testing.

The researchers believe that this would affect people who are at risk of the condition, but who rarely or never visit their GP.

Tests can be misleading

However, Diabetes UK is concerned that the test involved may not give the full picture, and that other factors should be considered.

Simon O’Neill, Director of Care and Advocacy at leading health charity Diabetes UK, said, "Finger prick tests on their own can be misleading. Blood glucose levels can vary in all individuals during any given day and these tests also do not factor in other risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes, such as having a large waist or a family history of the condition. People with one or more risk factors may be falsely reassured if they have a normal glucose reading. Also, a positive diagnosis can cause anxiety if someone does not have access to information and advice provided by a trained healthcare professional at hand.

"Diabetes UK does not recommend finger prick tests as part of its own risk assessments; however, a commitment to find new ways to ensure early diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes is always positive. We recommend that anyone with one or more risk factors should visit their GP to discuss their risk of Type 2 diabetes and whether it is necessary for them to have a blood test."

People can assess their risk of Type 2 diabetes by taking theDiabetes UK online Risk Score test. The results will tell you your level of risk and whether you should go to your GP.

The full study is published in theBritish Journal of General Practice.

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