While diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, with most people needing a diabetes eye check at least every two years, a new University of Sydney study reveals only half of diabetics get the recommended diabetes eye checks.
The University of Sydney research study, published in Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, linked data from the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up study with Medicare Benefits data to examine how frequently almost 25,000 people in NSW living with diabetes had eye examinations.
Researchers found people who had been living with diabetes for 10 or more years were even less likely to get regular eye checks, with almost 80% of people not partaking in the annual check recommended for this group.
All people with diabetes are at risk of diabetes-related retinopathy, which causes damage to the back of the eye and Diabetes Australia is confident that its new KeepSight program will help ensure that the proportion of people with diabetes accessing eye checks increases in coming years.
The ultimate aim of the program, which commenced just over 12 months ago, is that every person with diabetes get the necessary eye checks that are key to preventing avoidable vision loss.
The KeepSight program is an online eye check reminder program that is easily accessible from a mobile phone and according to Diabetes Australia CEO, Professor Greg Johnson, 100,000 people have enrolled since the program started.
“Having 100,000 Australians with diabetes registered with KeepSight is an important milestone for the program but there are currently more than 1.36 million Australians living with diabetes, so we are encouraging every person with diabetes, and all health professionals, to register with KeepSight,” says Professor Johnson.
“KeepSight provides electronic alerts and reminders to help people with diabetes remember their diabetes eye checks.
“When it’s time for a diabetes check you get a reminder. It’s that simple.
“KeepSight can also help you find an optometrist if you don’t know one.”
The KeepSight program, which is run by Diabetes Australia in partnership with Vision 2020 Australia, Centre for Eye Research Australia and Oculo, has been co-funded by the Australian Government, Specsavers, Bayer, Novartis and Mylan.
The program has widespread support from leading diabetes and eye health groups including the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, Orthoptics Australia, Optometry Australia, the Australian Diabetes Society and the Australian Diabetes Educators Association.