In 2016, more than 320,000 unsuspected cases of diabetic retinopathy were spotted by doctors of optometry.

4 tools for detecting diabetes

Today is American Diabetes Association Alert Day®, and it's a good time for doctors of optometry to sound the alarm to patients on the toll diabetes is taking on the health of millions of Americans and the U.S. economy.

" Diagnosed diabetes was the most costly, chronic disease in the country at $327 billion in 2017."

According to a recent report by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), diagnosed diabetes is the most costly, chronic disease in the country at $327 billion last year. That comes to $1 out of every $4 spent on health care in this country, the ADA reported. Costs cited in the report include direct medical expenses and lost productivity.

Doctors of optometry are doing their part. In 2016, for instance, they diagnosed more than 320,000 cases of diabetic retinopathy in patients who did not know they had diabetes. Many people learn their diabetes risks through a dilated, comprehensive eye examination from their doctor of optometry. And the sooner doctors of optometry can detect the biomarkers, the sooner they can educate their patients about managing their disease through diet, exercise and medication.

"This should be a wake-up call to the diabetes prevention community who must act on the fact that diabetes is not an isolated health sector problem," says Michael Dueñas, O.D., AOA chief public health officer. "To reverse this diabetes trend, we must be inventive, proactive and inclusive of the economic and environmental sectors. With the new federal budget, Brownfield funding is going up significantly and now is the time to leverage Brownfields to Healthfields (B2H)-focused on diabetes prevention and care-through a triple bottom line (health, economy and environment) approach.

"Importantly, through its coordinated and comprehensive actions to promote expansion of optometry services at health centers, the AOA is already at this B2H table, both participating and planning," Dr. Dueñas says.

Learn more about AOA's role in B2H on page 30 of the October 2017 edition of AOA Focus.

Tools and resources


AOA members can take advantage of these tools and resources in the fight against diabetes:

  • Eye Care of the Patient with Diabetes Mellitus clinical practice guideline. The AOA's first evidence-based clinical practice guideline, posted on the National Guideline Clearinghouse, provides doctors with a vital resource in the detection and routine screening of people with diabetes, implementing cross-disciplinary, evidence-based guidance that is the culmination of 2½ years of expert review. The guideline is currently under review by the AOA's Evidence-Based Optometry Committee and is expected to be released in early 2019.

  • Attend continuing education at Optometry's Meeting® June 20-24 in Denver, Colorado. Among the diabetes-related courses being offered:

    • "Diabetometry and Diabetometrists: Metabolic Syndrome, Hypertension and Lipid Levels: AOA Diabetes Guideline EBO Committee Course," 3 p.m., Wednesday, June 20.
    • "Education in the Round: Diabetes in Your Practice-What You Find May Surprise You," 2 p.m., Thursday, June 21.
    • "Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines for Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination" from 7-8 a.m., Friday, June 22.
    • "Beyond Retinopathy: Destructive Effects of Diabetes Mellitus," 1 p.m., Saturday, June 23
  • Sign up for the Hackathon at Optometry's Meeting: Back for a second bow is the interprofessional hackathon; this year's topic is "Artificial Intelligence and the Care of the Diabetic Patient" set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 23. To preregister, contact moderator, Thomas Wong, O.D., director of new technologies and clinical externships at State University of New York College of Optometry, at tawong@sunyopt.edu. The hackathon will feature teams of doctors of optometry and students competing to create a digital solution.

  • See diabetes related resources. Go to the AOA Diabetes & Eye Health web page and search AOA Marketplace to find practice and patient education tools.

March 27, 2018

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