Oral Presentation Australian Diabetes Society and the Australian Diabetes Educators Association Annual Scientific Meeting 2014

Eye Care for Diabetes, an Indigenous Perspective (#125)

Hugh Taylor 1
  1. The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Everyone with diabetes is at risk of going of going blind if they live long enough! Although good control of blood sugar, blood pressure and blood lipids slows the rate of development of the ocular complications, good control also prolongs life but does not reduce the lifetime risk of vision loss. The ocular complications include a changed need for glasses, cataract, glaucoma, but most importantly diabetic retinopathy and its complications.  Up to 94% of the vision loss from diabetes can be prevented with timely treatment which is why those with diabetes need regular eye exams. These exams should test visual acuity and include either a dilated retinal examination or retinal photography. The NHMRC Guidelines call for an eye exam every 2 years for non-indigenous Australians with diabetes but every twelve months for Indigenous Australians. Currently only 50% on non-indigenous people comply with this, but only 20% of Indigenous people do.  The patient journey is like a leaky pipe and for Indigenous people there are 35 issues or leaks that require attention. These range from education and prompts to initiate eye exams in primary care, reimbursement for retinal photography, increased case management, to reporting and monitoring at regional and national levels.  People with diabetes form 75% of those Indigenous people who need an annual eye exam.  In addition to needing a referral for laser treatment, referral pathways for glasses and cataract surgery are also needed. The later pathways can be used by those without diabetes. The focus on eye care for those with diabetes not only will prevent them from losing sight but will also develop better eye care for all Indigenous people.