National diabetes eye screening program to be established

Thursday, 19 Jul 2018

A new national diabetes eye screening program is to be rolled out based on electronic eye health records, clinical images and patient alerts.

The Preserve Sight program will create a national electronic eye health record that can be used by patients’ nominated health providers, including endocrinologists, GPs and optometrists, to track eye health.

With $1 million in Federal government funding matched by $1 million from Specsavers Australia, the program will be delivered by Diabetes Australia in partnership with the blindness prevention program Vision 2020 Australia.

The program will connect the National Diabetes Service Scheme (NDSS) database with the eye care clinical communications system Oculo  – developed by the Centre for Eye Research Australia – to allow both eye care and diabetes care providers to create and view electronic eye health records and retinal photos for their patients. It will also enable a targeted alert and reminder system to encourage people with diabetes to have eye checks.

According to Vision 2020 Australia, over the next five years the program will alert an estimated 630,000 Australians with diabetes, who are currently missing out on recommended eye checks.

“The program will encourage people with diabetes to visit existing optometry services and specialist ophthalmic service providers for Medicare-funded eye checks and early interventions,” said CEO Judith Abbott.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists President Associate Professor Mark Daniell said that with newer and more effective treatments such as intravitreal injections, the major challenge to preventing vision loss in diabetes has been patients presenting too late for treatment.

“The new national diabetes eye screening program is an excellent initiative [for] chasing up patients who have not been screened. This initiative aligns with RANZCO’s collaborative care guidelines, which provide clear standards of care for diabetic retinopathy.”

Oculo CEO Dr Kate Taylor said the clinical communications platform currently connected over half of all eye health services in Australia.

“Through Oculo and a new public portal to be built, optometrists, ophthalmologists, GPs, endocrinologists and diabetes health care professionals will be able to record patient eye checks and make sure patients get appropriate notifications for regular eye tests through the National Diabetes Services Scheme.”

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