Specsavers Australia & New Zealand has welcomed the Australian Government’s additional funding commitment to the KeepSight national diabetes screening program.

On 14 July 2019, Australian Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced that the Federal Government would an invest an additional $1.5 million into KeepSight, a national diabetes eye screening program that aims to prevent diabetes-related blindness by detecting problems early when they are treatable.

The funding – which was announced to coincide with the start of Australia’s National Diabetes Week, which this year takes place from 14 to 20 July – is in addition to the $1 million the Government committed in July 2018. Specsavers Aus / NZ has also committed $1 million a year for five years towards the program’s development.

A media statement from the Minister stated, “Diabetes is a chronic condition that impacts the lives of more than 1.2 million Australians … We are aware of the significant impact diabetes has on people and their families, and are doing everything we can in working towards the broad prevention of the disease in the Australian community.”

Following the announcement, Specsavers Aus / NZ Optometry Director Peter Larsen said, “We are very pleased the Morrison Government has committed another $1.5 million to the KeepSight initiative, supporting Australians with diabetes. Alongside Specsavers’ $1 million a year for five years, together we can support Diabetes Australia to communicate the importance of regular, Medicare-funded eye tests to people with diabetes.

“As we know, KeepSight is an important step forward in the fight against diabetes-related blindness and all parties involved share the ultimate aim of eliminating diabetes as a cause of blindness in the community.

“From our perspective at Specsavers, we’re already seeing a dramatic increase in patients with diabetes signed up to the KeepSight portal. We will share some specific figures on how this is progressing at the Specsavers Clinical Conference in Melbourne on 7th and 8th September.”

Currently, more than 600,000 Australians with diabetes do not engage in regular eye health checks and, as a consequence, are putting themselves at significant risk of developing sight-threatening retinal disease. Those who register with KeepSight will receive regular reminders and alerts to ensure they are receiving the right eye health checks at the right time.

The program has widespread support from leading diabetes and eye health groups, and is funded with the support of Specsavers, the Australian Government, Vision 2020 Australia, Oculo, Bayer and Novartis.