Professor Greg Johnson joined Diabetes Victoria as Chief Executive in January 2003. He is an Adjunct Professor with Deakin University and holds a degree in pharmacy, post-graduate qualifications in hospital pharmacy and health service management, and a masters degree in business administration.
He has participated in a wide range of health industry and government advisory committees and has a particular interest in prevention and has led the establishment of a number of leading diabetes prevention initiatives.
Here, he explains what health providers need to know about Keepsight.
More than 100,000 people have now signed up to KeepSight, Australia’s diabetes eye health reminder system which launched last year.
This milestone confirms the value that people with diabetes place in receiving reminders from a trusted health source to make it easier for them to have regular diabetes eye health checks.
The program was formally launched to the public in 2019 and sends reminders to people with diabetes when they are due to have their eyes checked. The initiative also acts as a national register to identify those having regular checks, as well as the people who aren’t.
We are confident KeepSight will lead to an increase in people with diabetes accessing eye checks in coming years. Ultimately, we want every person with diabetes to have a regular eye check. There are currently more than 1.36 million Australians living with diabetes and with an additional 280 people developing diabetes every day. This figure is estimated to grow to 2.45 million by 2030.
All Australians with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy (DR) and there are currently around 100,000 Australians with vision-threatening DR. Concerningly this number is expected to double by 2030.
So, we are encouraging every person with diabetes, and all health professionals, to register with KeepSight.
The good news is that almost all diabetes-related blindness is preventable if detected and treated early. Diabetes is a complex condition and people with diabetes need to have many regular health checks to manage their condition. It can be time-consuming and sometimes things get overlooked.
Diabetic retinopathy is often asymptomatic until it reaches an advanced stage and outcomes of late treatment are usually inferior to early intervention. But, evidence shows that early detection and timely treatment can prevent the majority of diabetes-related vision loss.
In just over a year, KeepSight has demonstrated that a coordinated and systematic approach to preventative and timely healthcare improved outcomes for people with diabetes and can have a real impact.
KeepSight is the first national reminder system introduced domestically to remind those with diabetes to have regular eye examinations, but the logic is not new.
A recall and reminder system was established there in 2003 and by 2013 diabetic retinopathy was no longer the leading cause of preventable blindness. Yet, in the 50 preceding years, diabetes was the main cause of vision loss in the working aged.
We absolutely expect that this can be a similar story in Australia in years to come. KeepSight has the potential to be the missing link that will keep Australians with diabetes more engaged in their eye health care and dramatically reduce diabetes related vision loss and blindness in Australia.
Optometrists, orthoptists, ophthalmologists, Aboriginal health workers, and GPs who do diabetic retinopathy (DR) screening are really important for the KeepSight program.
As the professionals at the coalface of this health epidemic, it’s critical that we all play our role in addressing this important issue.
By registering as a KeepSight provider, then registering and recording the results for people with diabetes, we can ensure they are getting the right eye care, at the right time. It also means these people can be directed to you as a provider and the KeepSight reminders will reinforce any existing practice recalls, directing people back to your practice for a check.
KeepSight is run by Diabetes Australia in partnership with Vision 2020 Australia, Centre for Eye Research Australia and Oculo. It has been co-funded by the Australian Government, Specsavers, Bayer, Novartis and Mylan.
The program has widespread support from leading diabetes and eye health groups including RANZCO, Orthoptics Australia, Optometry Australia, the Australian Diabetes Society and the Australian Diabetes Educators Association.