by Dr. Beth Muckley, OOA Trustee
Diabetes Awareness Month is November. What are you going to do to promote diabetes awareness in your office?
With the increasing prevalence of diabetes, the number of Americans with diabetic eye disease is on the rise. The National Eye Institute (NEI) estimates that 7.7 million people ages 40 and older have diabetic retinopathy, and this number will increase to 11 million by 2030. Diabetic eye disease can lead to vision loss and blindness; however, early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up can prevent 95% of severe vision loss from diabetes.
The Ohio Optometric Association would like to help you promote diabetes awareness in your office. There are multiple opportunities for to grow their diabetic practice and gain referrals for diabetic examinations. Consider the following:
1. Contact all primary care physicians and internal medicine doctors in your area. Let them know you provide dilated eye exams to diabetics and you are taking new patients. Many PCPs refer to ophthalmologists because they don’t think ODs are dilating their patients.
2. Send correspondence to your diabetic patient’s primary care physician detailing your exam, whether they referred the patient to you or not. The more communication you provide, the more likely they are to send you new patients and not redirect your established patient to an ophthalmologist. AOA has a PDF report form available to members on their website for your use if you don’t want to dictate an individual letter.
3. Call your local hospital or large internal medicine clinic. Many larger wellness facilities have an ongoing diabetic outreach/education program. Ask them to refer patients to you for diabetic eye exams. Take them your business cards and brochures. They may also invite you to serve on their panel as an advisor or even provide mini-education on diabetic eye health at their fairs and public education meetings.
4. Advertise on social media sites (Facebook, office web page, etc.) that you manage diabetic eye disease.
5. Visit the National Eye Health Education Program website and sign up for webinar programs to learn more about diabetic eye disease and opportunities to help raise awareness. NEHEP has an array of resources to assist its Partnership and other intermediaries in their educational efforts including a new Social Media Toolkit, info-graphics, public service announcements, educational materials, and more.
6. Visit AOA’s dedicated Diabetes & Eye Health web page (www.aoa.org/diabetes). It provides members with information, tools, and resources to assist in providing the best level of care for their patients affected by diabetes.
Diabetes is a growing health crisis where optometry plays a critical role in its management. The landscape of healthcare is changing. It is important that you, as an optometrist, are included in caring for those that may be going towards a medical home or accountable care organization. As outcomes in patient centered homes are evaluated, making a few of the above simple steps will help you build this part of your practice and put optometry at the forefront of diabetic eye care.