A Sense of Urgency to Treat Diabetic Eye Disease
With the number of people developing diabetes rising around the world, in both developed and underserved communities, the global burden of diabetic eye disease and vision impairment will continue to increase at an uncomfortable pace. Without a sense of urgency to improve the way diabetics are treated, this has the potential to cripple overwhelmed health systems and health centers around the world.
Through early detection and appropriate treatment, the risk of severe vision loss can be reduced by 95%. Unfortunately, eye health remains outside of mainstream primary diabetes care. The traditional standard of care for diabetic patients is for an eye specialist to perform a routine eye examination annually. The problem with the current standard of treatment is that on average, as many as 50% of patients who are referred to a specialist are not getting their eyes examined or are diagnosed too late for effective treatment.
In late December 2017, the International Diabetes Foundation along with joint declaration from the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO), the World Council of Optometry (WCO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), released a “Diabetes Eye Health” guide, to encourage and facilitate good diabetes management, early diagnosis and treatment of diabetic eye disease, as well as inspire collaboration across the health system. Included in the guide are recommendations for action to integrate eye health in routine diabetes care by primary health-care providers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2015 the number of visits to physician offices with diabetes as the primary diagnosis was 34.6 million. Integrating eye exams in primary care addresses barriers to care, such as conflicting work schedules, lack of transportation and inadequate access to an eye specialist. Through this initiative, more patients who have diabetic eye disease can be identified earlier and receive the necessary treatment to prevent blindness.
Welch Allyn Introduces Vision Care for Diabetic Population in Primary Care
Welch Allyn has worked closely with Community Health Centers supporting their various programs and initiatives over the last several years. In 2015, Welch Allyn created a solution, RetinaVue® Care Delivery Model, designed to make retinal exams simple and affordable for primary care settings. Monica Johnson, a patient who lost her vision to diabetic retinopathy at the age of 29, wishes technology was available in primary care to monitor complications for diabetic eye disease when she was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 11. “Welch Allyn is making a tremendous impact and helping to change the healthcare industry,” says Johnson. She continues, “Not just the medical industry, but for people like me who are living with diabetes.”
As we celebrate the incredible individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty to support Community Health Centers in providing quality health-care for patients in their community, Welch Allyn looks forward to assisting with the diagnostic needs of the Community Health Center’s patient population.