New diabetes guideline bolsters ODs’ care decisions

Optometrists weren't the first to call eyes "windows to the body," but they've definitely demonstrated the relevance of the phrase, especially when it comes to diabetes.

This is going to be the go-to document for practitioners.

As many as 40 percent of the nation's 27 million people with diabetes are unaware of their condition, and many times ODs are the first practitioners to detect the tell-tale signs. Now, members have access to the AOA's first evidence-based clinical practice guideline, for patients with diabetes, adding yet another resource for member ODs to reference as they become the quarterback of their patient's diabetes care team.

"Eye Care of the Patient with Diabetes Mellitus" not only offers evidence-based guidance to assist in patient care decisions, but also reaffirms optometry's vital role in the multidisciplinary fight against diabetes. The guideline represents two and a half years of research and work—with more than 230 academic articles cited—by the AOA Evidence-Based Optometry Committee. The committee adopted a new process set forth in 2011 by the Institute of Medicine to better reflect a shifting health care environment—one in which evidence and outcomes affect everything from care to reimbursement. The new process includes numerous reviewers from multiple disciplines and strict criteria for determining what research is included.

Find out how the diabetes guideline can aid in the detection and routine screening of people with diabetes:

5 ways the diabetes guideline will help ODs

  • Provides guidance for identification of patients at risk for diabetes or vision loss from diabetes, and patients with undiagnosed diabetes
  • Promotes vision preservation by aiding ODs in timely detection, intervention and determination for future evaluation and appropriate patient referral
  • Suggests improvements for the quality of care offered to persons with diabetes
  • Educates both individuals and health care practitioners to the ocular complications that arise from diabetes, and provides information about vision rehabilitation
  • Assists ODs in achieving provisions of vision rehabilitation services or referrals for care of persons with vision loss resulting from diabetes

Diane Adamczyk, O.D., chair of the Evidence-Based Optometry Committee, says the group that developed the guideline collectively feels it has the potential to become a model of care among doctors and other practitioners involved on the patient's diabetes care team.

"I strongly believe this is going to be the go-to document for practitioners, whether they are in the early stages of their career or have been treating patients for many years," Dr. Adamczyk says.

March 11, 2014

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