2 approaches to diabetic eye care: information and outreach

For people with diabetes--and the optometrists who treat them--the need for eye care and education has never been more clear.

In 2011, 4 million adults with diabetes in the U.S. reported visual impairment, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And from 2005-2008, 28.5 percent of people with diabetes ages 40 and older had diabetic retinopathy.

To meet the needs of this at-risk group, the AOA provides resources for optometrists and patients, plus grants for community outreach.

For example, the new AOA.org houses the comprehensive Diabetes and Eye Health initiative, with valuable resources developed especially for AOA members:

  • Coding Tools (member login required to view)
  • Clinical resources (member login required to view)
  • Practice tools
  • A form to share diabetes-related activities in your state.

In addition, several of 2013's Healthy Eyes Healthy People® grants funded by Luxottica went to diabetes-related projects. The following community outreach efforts are tackling the needs of those with diabetes.

  • U & Eye (Louisiana, Doug Wilkinson)
    U & Eye educates the employees of the Paragon Casino & Resort about the need to see an optometrist regularly. The project emphasizes annual eye exams for people with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes--important because nearly nine of 10 casino employees are overweight or obese. Led by the Optometric Association of Louisiana, the project also educates a diverse rural population on how optometrists can manage, improve and save vision.

  • Diabetes and Your Eyes (Minnesota, Beth Coleman, executive director)
    This program highlights the importance of preventive and therapeutic eye care for all patients with diabetes, particularly in underserved populations. Outreach includes stressing the need for an annual eye exam or more often if indicated. The program also encourages Minnesota Optometric Association members to volunteer in their own communities.

  • Diabetic Eye Exam Initiative (New Hampshire, Sarah E. Jagatic, O.D.)
    In this project, New Hampshire Optometric Association members provide free dilated eye examinations and education for the uninsured and underinsured. The goal is to ensure community health centers' diabetic populations have annual exams to prevent visual impairment caused by diabetic retinopathy.

In addition, state projects in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, and Tennessee include eye care for patients with diabetes among their goals.

August 14, 2013

comments powered by Disqus