Before COVID-19 temporarily changed the face of optometry services in our country, KeepSight celebrated reaching its one-year milestone. And now, as restrictions start to ease and a return to routine eye care beckons, it is important to once more turn our attention to the importance of the initiative and the critical nature of optometry’s involvement in it.
The program is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to prevent diabetes-related blindness by detecting problems early when they are treatable. It does this by reminding the 1.3 million Australians living with diabetes who are registered on the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) to register with KeepSight and make an appointment with an optometrist for their regular Medicare-funded diabetes eye check.
In KeepSight’s first year, Specsavers optometrists registered more than 54,000 patients with diabetes onto the system with more than 90% of these doing so on an opt-in basis, during the eye check with their optometrist.
At the end of this month, personalised email and text notifications reminding patients when their eye checks are due will start to be distributed to all patients with diabetes who are registered on KeepSight when their check falls due and as scheduled into the system by their optometrist.
Dr Benjamin Ashby, Director of Optometry for Specsavers ANZ, says currently 28% of Specsavers patients with diabetes consent to be registered to KeepSight, and as Specsavers continues to develop its patient management registration systems and processes over the coming 12 months, the number is expected to grow to 80%. This could equate to 2,250 registrations or patient data updates each week.
“There are currently 600,000 people with diabetes in Australia that are at risk of losing their sight because they don’t engage in regular diabetes eye checks. Over the next year, Specsavers will be helping to address this by growing on the success of KeepSight in year one by making system changes to make it easier to put patients with diabetes onto the national registry; we’re engaging with training programs with RANZCO to educate local optometrists on the best possible referral pathways, and we’re also presenting data to Diabetes Australia and the Department of Health to help transform the eye health outcomes for these patients.”
KeepSight is majority funded by a public-private partnership between the Australian Government, Specsavers, and others including Bayer and Novartis. It is widely supported by leading diabetes and eye health groups, such as Vision 2020 Australia, while industry-inclusive referral platform provider Oculo is the technology partner. KeepSight is managed by Diabetes Australia. To find out more, visit www.keepsight.org.au