AOA advocacy continues to shape diabetes guidelines

AOA advocacy continues to shape diabetes guidelines

"Members should further expand their roles of early diagnosis of diabetes and pre-diabetes."

New national diabetes guidance represents decades of AOA advocacy at work. Among other things, it emphasizes that all diabetes patients should have regular, comprehensive eye examinations by optometrists or ophthalmologists. The guidance is from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The NIH/CDC National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) recently issued the "Guiding Principles for the Care of People With or at Risk for Diabetes." The AOA, along with 19 other organizations and U.S. agencies, supported the development of these principles, which seek to guide primary care providers and health care teams on delivering quality care to adults with diabetes, or those at risk for diabetes.

Specifically, the guidance's diabetic retinopathy assessment portion reflects clinical positions the AOA has advocated for over the past three decades, including, initial and repeated comprehensive eye exams annually for individuals with established retinopathy, says Michael Dueñas, O.D., AOA's chief public health officer. Among working-age adults, this condition is the leading cause of blindness.

The guidance acknowledges that comprehensive eye exams are essential as opposed to other less comprehensive assessment. It goes on to state that multiple ocular complications can accompany diabetes. These conditions may include cataract, glaucoma, retinal vascular occlusive disease, hypertensive retinopathy, ocular surface disease, and ischemic optic neuropathy.

For this reason, anyone with diabetes should seek comprehensive eye examinations with dilation by an optometrist.

A call to action
ODs should view the new NDEP publication as a call to action to test for diabetes and pre-diabetes in their practices. The profession plays an important role in helping to manage pre-diabetes, as well as type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

"Members should further expand their roles of early diagnosis of diabetes and pre-diabetes," and coordinate with other health care providers on a regular basis regarding the care of diabetic patients, Dr. Dueñas advises.

AOA earlier this year released its own clinical practice guidelines to help guide members' care decisions for diabetic patients. Other AOA diabetes resources are available on the AOA's website.

December 10, 2014

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