In 2018, the Australian Government provided funding for a new national diabetes eye screening program, KeepSight, an Australian-first initiative to help in the fight against diabetes related vision loss and blindness. Specsavers matched the funding, agreeing to contribute $1m a year for five years to get behind the program as an industry partner.

With an estimated 50% of people living with diabetes not receiving regular eye checks, Diabetes Australia partnered with Specsavers, Vision 2020 Australia, Oculo, as well as engaging other leading diabetes and eye health groups to set up the program.

KeepSight formally launched to the public at the end of March 2019 and, two years on, Specsavers data is revealing a picture of just how much the program is providing a sustainable model for preventative eyecare and improving health outcomes for people with diabetes.

What the data is showing

Up to January 2021, over 137,000 patients with diabetes have been registered for the first time onto the KeepSight portal by Specsavers optometrists over the past two years. In addition, nearly 20,000 patients with diabetes have already returned for their next diabetes eye check and have been re-registered with KeepSight in that time period too. Taking into account COVID-19 in 2020 and the impact of the Victorian lockdown on optometric care, this is a significant number – with 1.7 million Australians living with diabetes, this represents approx. 8% of those Australians being supported with their on-going eye health care through Specsavers.

The graph below demonstrates a month-by-month comparison of registrations to KeepSight, highlighting the increased rates of first-time registrations over the past two years, with the impact of COVID-19 visible in the first half of last year. In addition, the data shows a steady increase in return patients in the second half of last year as indicated by the total number of first-time and re-registered patients.

Specsavers KeepSight registrations and re-registrations

This data demonstrates that as COVID-19 restrictions eased across Australia, patients felt comfortable returning to optometric services, with the month of November 2020 seeing more than 16,000 patients with diabetes receiving an eye check at Specsavers and registered with KeepSight, almost 1% of all Australians living with diabetes.

Naomi Barber, Head of Professional Services at Specsavers, says, “The steady increase in patient volume and percentage of registrations is testament to the systematic approach of developing and integrating KeepSight into Specsavers standard processes. This began at the end of 2018, when changes were made to our practice management software that allowed optometrists to more easily track patients with diabetes to provide baseline data. From here, we integrated Oculo and then the KeepSight portal directly with the patient management system.

“These investments have been critical in building a strong registration rate onto KeepSight, and the increase in patient registrations over the past two years has shown that creating a sustainable model for preventing vision loss in people with diabetes comes from integrating systems and streamlining processes.”

Upon KeepSight’s launch, Specsavers aimed to register 200,000 patients with diabetes within two years. As we approach the two-year anniversary, we are close to hitting that goal, even with the disruptions to optometric services due to COVID-19 in 2020.

As we look forward, Specsavers will continue providing the best possible care to our patients and with the support within our workforce firmly behind the KeepSight program, we aim to register between 80-90% of Specsavers patients with diabetes by March 2022.