November is American Diabetes Month. Here are several tools and resources that AOA members can take advantage of in their care of patients with diabetes.

Are you making the most of AOA’s diabetes tools and resources?

Diabetes is a serious, costly disease that's estimated to affect 1 in 11 Americans, accounting for a whopping 1 in 4 health care dollars spent in the U.S. Despite its severity, diabetes is manageable and, in some cases, avoidable through deliberate and concerted intervention. But even with advances in diabetes management, effective control hinges on patient compliance-especially when it relates to eye health and vision care.

"AOA diligently advocates for optometry’s critical role in helping mitigate this public health challenge."

Diabetic retinopathy is the most significant vision-threating complication of diabetes and remains the leading cause of adult-onset blindness among Americans. Still, anywhere from a third to half of people with diabetes don't receive an annual eye examination, and moreover, 20 to 40 percent of individuals with type 2 diabetes have retinopathy at the time of first diabetes diagnosis, per AOA's evidence-based clinical practice guideline, Eye Care of the Patient with Diabetes Mellitus.

In-person, comprehensive eye exams from doctors of optometry are critical not only for early diagnosis and timely, sight-preserving treatment but also to refer and connect patients into the larger, multidisciplinary diabetes care network. Last year alone, doctors of optometry diagnosed more than 401,000 cases of diabetic retinopathy in patients who had no idea they had diabetes.

Doctors of optometry are committed to educating patients about ways of preventing and minimizing eye complications caused by diabetes, routinely working with other providers to ensure patients receive the highest quality care, maintain good vision and live healthy lives. That's why AOA diligently advocates for optometry's critical role in helping mitigate this public health challenge.

Here are three tools and resources that AOA members can use to bolster their care of patients with diabetes:

  1. Eye Care of the Patient with Diabetes Mellitus.The AOA's first evidence-based clinical practice guideline was honored with the American Public Health Association's Vision Care Section Outstanding Scientific Paper Award in 2015 and remains a foundation for optometry's diabetes advocacy. This guideline provides doctors with a clinical resource in the detection and routine screening of people with diabetes, implementing cross-disciplinary evidence-based guidance. Access a summary of the guideline in a nine-page, quick-reference guide here.

  2. Diabetic Retinopathy Chairside Tool. Developed by AOA's Health Promotions Committee, this tool is designed for use by doctors of optometry to educate patients with diabetes. Both sides of the 8 ½-by-11-inch laminated card contain ultra-wide images of the progression of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. Made possible by the support of Optos, this patient-friendly tool is available at AOA Marketplace and discounted as part of your AOA membership.

  3. AOA Diabetes & Eye Health web page. Recently updated, this resource round-up page offers AOA members a one-stop-shop for diabetes reference tools, including practice tools and pearls, report forms and additional resources.

Read more about optometry's expanding role in diabetes care in the November/December 2016 AOA Focus article, "Eye Care in the Diabetes Age," and expect a special diabetes issue of AOA Focus this December.

November 1, 2018

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