There are up to 1.9 million people living with diabetes in Australia. Of those, research suggests 800,000 don’t access routine eyecare services. Optometrists are doing a great job at referring their consenting patients with diabetes to the program, but what is KeepSight doing to encourage those who aren’t currently having eye tests to book one in?

Diabetes Australia’s KeepSight Program Director Taryn Black says there are a multitude of reasons why people might not be engaging in regular eye checks.

“Diabetes is a complex condition and people living with it have a lot to manage. It is relentless. There is never a day off. Often people are also dealing with other, potentially more urgent complications or wider issues. So, the need to have an eye check may be down the pecking order of priority,” she says.

Diabetes Australia says this is where KeepSight plays an important role. The KeepSight team routinely engages with people with diabetes encouraging them to sign up for checks but also working to allay any other barrier or concerns they may have.

This work to drive more people with diabetes into the clinic for a check is a critical piece of the KeepSight effort, Black says.

“We have a unique opportunity to be able to directly connect with people with diabetes via the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS).”

KeepSight is employing a multi-pronged approach to communicating with people with diabetes about eye health.

Increasingly Diabetes Australia is much more targeted in the way it communicates. It achieves this by developing messaging targeted to particular groups or cohorts.

“This might be people who are newly diagnosed, or those who have lived with diabetes for many years. It might also be people in regional and remote areas, versus those in metro areas. It might be people who have started the sign-up process previously who, for whatever reason, didn’t complete it,” Black says.

“All of these groups require a subtle nuancing in the message which speaks to their unique challenges – but it is essentially the same message – register for reminders and get your eyes checked – it’s really important.”

In the most recent NDSS activation, the team observed a six-times improvement in response, simply by adapting the message to speak more directly to the person’s individual experience and reinforcing the message with a follow up communication.

In addition to direct communications, the KeepSight team adopts what it calls an ‘always on’ approach to marketing and communication. There is always something in market encouraging people to sign up and reinforcing the diabetes eye health message. This might include social media or digital advertising, media articles, or advertising in key publications.

The goal is to build exposure so that targeted people see the diabetes eye health message everywhere.

It is this layered approach that the KeepSight team hopes will continue to bring people into eyecare providers for a check.

“KeepSight’s mission is to direct people with diabetes into routine eye care and remind them to keep going back. That is then where the eyecare sector’s role really comes into play – to provide quality and reassuring, specialist diabetes eyecare,” Black says.

“It really is a wrap-around effort to support people with diabetes to prioritise their eyes and we are grateful for the support of providers like Specsavers who are so committed to this important cause, providing not just financial support but also industry expertise and insight.”