National Diabetes Awareness Week will occur from 11–17 this month. You can expect to see a powerful campaign, launched by Diabetes Australia, that draws attention to the mental and emotional health impact of living with diabetes.
According to the Association, people with diabetes face around 180 diabetes-related decisions every day – more than 65,000 extra decisions a year. It’s easy to understand then, how they may overlook the need to have an eye test, especially if their eye sight feels fine.
Yet, diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness among working age Australians and, as such, optometrists can play a significant role in saving the sight of people with this disease. Educating patients with diabetes about the risk factors for vision loss, prevention strategies and the need to have regular eye tests is vital. So too is signing them up to KeepSight.
KeepSight is a national diabetes eye screening program, led by Diabetes Australia and Vision 2020 Australia. Funded through a public-private partnership, and described as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to prevent diabetes-related blindness”, the program is easily accessible. Your patients can sign themselves up in 30 seconds or better still, your staff can sign them up (with permission) as they leave the practice.
To date, 162,000 people living with diabetes and 4,700 eye care providers have registered with KeepSight.
Important for you to realise is when you register your patients with KeepSight they will be reminded of the need to have their next eye examination at your practice – so you’re at no risk of losing them. Equally important to understand is that according to KeepSight’s research, people with diabetes really do appreciate more than one reminder to have an eye exam, so KeepSight’s service will complement your own recall program.
National Diabetes Awareness Week presents a great opportunity to have a conversation with patients about diabetes, and to register them to KeepSight. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend you have a look at Keepsight.org.au. You’ll see how easy registration is and find fantastic resources that have been developed to explain the increased risks of eye diseases associated with diabetes, prevention strategies and the importance of eye checks.
To mark National Diabetes Week, this issue has some exceptional articles about diabetes detection and management.