NEW YORK—"Focus onDiabetes, Look Closer at Eye Health" is a new program developed to bring awareness to eyecare's role in helping diagnose and manage treatments for the millions of Americans who have the disease, may not even know they are in danger of getting the disease and are looking for solutions to manage diabetes-related eye disease. An initiative of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a leading force in the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and for those affected by it, the program is being launched with Visionary Partners VSP Vision Care and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
The goal of the program is to help raise awareness of the crucial role eyecare providers play in the diabetes care team as an accessible pathway to early diabetes detection and ongoing management, the ADA said. "We can help increase the cost effectiveness of health care through education that drives people towards diabetes risk assessment and comprehensive annual eye exams, which can lead to early detection, intervention and prevention efforts."
In a media briefing last Friday, to outline the goals of the program, which will be rolled out soon, Tracey D. Brown, MBA, BChE, CEO, American Diabetes Association, said, “Diabetic eye disease is one of the complications of diabetes, affecting a third or more of people with diabetes over age 40. Everyone with diabetes is at risk, but with early detection, serious eye damage can be prevented by getting a dilated eye exam each year. Together, through our joint initiative with our visionary partners VSP Vision Care and Regeneron, we aim to decrease the occurrence and severity of diabetes-related eye disease and the often-overlooked, but devastating impact of diabetes-related vision loss.”
Added Kate Renwick-Espinosa, president, VSP Vision Care, “The diabetes epidemic continues to take an unprecedented toll on so many lives and negatively impacts an already strained healthcare system. For those at risk, or living with diabetes, an annual eye exam is a must–offering a simple way to prevent or delay eye disease and vision loss caused by diabetes. As a health-focused company, VSP is excited to partner with the American Diabetes Association and support the Focus on Diabetes initiative to help raise awareness about the crucial role optometrists play in driving better health outcomes for patients.”
Dr. Fouad Amer, executive director, medical affairs, ophthalmology, Regeneron, said “Regeneron is proud to stand alongside the ADA and VSP as a Visionary Partner in the Focus on Diabetes initiative, working together toward the goal of addressing the national burden of diabetic eye disease. We are dedicated to advancing tools and treatments for those with serious diseases, like diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, and look forward to elevating efforts toward this aim: ensuring people with diabetes across the country look closer at eye health.”
The program is a multiyear initiative designed to raise awareness of risk and suggest actions for those who may be at risk for diabetes-related eye disease. It will provide support and education to people affected by it. The initiative will educate health care professionals about diabetes-related eye disease and how to help prevent it.
Diabetes-related eye disease, including diabetic retinopathy (DR) and diabetic macular edema (DME) is the leading cause of blindness in working age Americans. Diabetes-related blindness and vision complications are predicted to affect 14.6 million Americans, by 2050. Although all people with diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease, African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Hispanics/Latinos, and older adults are at higher risk of losing their vision from it, according to the ADA.
In addition, it's estimated that vision-related disorders are costing the U.S. health care system $139 billion annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that diabetes-related blindness costs can total more than $500 million per year, alone. With millions of Americans undiagnosed with diabetes, or living with prediabetes, the cost of diabetes to individuals and society will only continue to rise.
The good news is vision loss can be prevented with early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care. An annual comprehensive eye exam is the first, critical step to helping people with diabetes preserve their vision.
More information about the Focus on Diabetes Look Closer initiative is posted here.
VMAIL will report on additional elements of the program as they become available.