Benchmark reports, training and development, and support from a team of clinical performance consultants assist optometrists to consistently provide best-practice care focussed on patient health outcomes. One optometry practice that has harnessed this and demonstrated particularly exceptional care for patients with diabetes is Specsavers Runaway Bay in Queensland, which is contributing to the elimination of vision loss to diabetic retinopathy in a significant and measurable way.

Optometrist and practice co-owner, Simon Kelly says the saddest stories of vision loss are the cases where patients are lost to follow up, only to book an appointment later when they start to notice an eyesight problem. The problem is often too late to treat at that stage and vision loss could have been avoided with early intervention.

This solid understanding of the responsibility that optometrists have in preventing diabetes vision loss has led Simon and his team to intervene in thousands of patient journeys over the past few years.

Since 2019, the practice has gained patient consent to register 64% of those with diabetes to KeepSight, which through its Diabetes Australia-led reminders will significantly decrease the chances of patient loss to follow up. Interestingly, of the patients registered to KeepSight, 42% are female and 58% are male – a traditionally difficult group to recall.

In the same period, Specsavers Runaway Bay has referred 6% of its patients with diabetes to specialist care. 42% of these diabetes referrals were for patients with macular oedema without any retinopathy.

Clinical data from Specsavers Runaway Bay shows 70% of the diabetes referrals were issued for patients aged 65+, 25% for those between 40-64 and 5% for those under 40. It is also worth noting that 48.8% of the diabetes referrals for patients aged 40-64 were for macula oedema. Late intervention for this kind of pathology can have significant impacts on livelihood, lifestyle and mental health of working age individuals, so this early detection is significant.

This patient-focussed care has contributed to the practice building a patient-base of more than 2,000 patients with diabetes over two years. All of these patients will receive diabetes specific recall as per the recommendation of their optometrist leading to the majority returning for timely follow up care in years to come.

Simon says the most important step to ensuring patients return for eye checks in recommended timeframes is to register them to KeepSight and the process is as simple as asking them if they would like to receive appointment reminders from Diabetes Australia.

Simon says: “I work with a fantastic team of passionate and dedicated optometrists that care about their patients and about doing the right thing. We simply figured out how we could consistently provide the best care possible and then agreed to put it into action for every patient with diabetes. We get performance reports that feedback on this as well as many other optometry metrics to help monitor our own performance.”