Optometrists on the front line of diabetes care

Every 17 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes. In the United States, 27 million people have diabetes, and there are 79 million more with pre-diabetes and increased risk.

Optometrists have a major role to play in providing medical care for this growing patient population. Several ODs discussed this role in a "Diabetes Summit" at Optometry's Meeting® 2013 in San Diego, Calif.

Now, with support from the medical technology company Optos, the AOA turned that discussion into a supplement, one of many tools designed to help optometrists care for people with diabetes.

Optometrists and the diabetes care team

In the supplement—"Optometrists Form Front Line in Battling Diabetes"—panelists cover a wide range of topics. Those topics include in-office testing for hemoglobin levels, the need for dilated exams and clear communication, how ODs can better educate patients about their condition, and more.

"It's really important for patients and other providers to know that we're having a real impact on their overall diabetes management by providing education about the fundamentals of good diabetes self-care," said panelist Tina MacDonald, O.D., director of the Diabetes and Vision Loss Program at The Center for the Partially Sighted in Culver City, Calif.

In some cases, optometrists aren't just part of a care team; they're the first practitioners to diagnose the disease in a patient.

"I find people with retinopathy but no previously documented medical problems," said panelist Jeffry D. Gerson, O.D., of West Glen Eyecare in Shawnee, Kan. "You have to make sure that the person goes and gets tested, or you do the testing in your office and make sure they receive appropriate care. It's important to realize that we're not always just part of the diabetes care team, there to assess eye health after a diagnosis has already been made. Sometimes, we're the quarterback because we're the first member of their diabetes care team."

November 26, 2013

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