Three years ago, the optometric industry began a once-in-a-generation journey to increase the rates of eye examinations and reduce the rates of diabetes-related blindness by detecting problems early when they are treatable. KeepSight is a private-public partnership, setting aside commercial competitiveness and focussing on industry-wide collaboration and cooperation to enhance patient health outcomes at rates never achieved before. Dr Benjamin Ashby, Director of Optometry at Specsavers ANZ, shares Specsavers’ latest findings to mark the program’s third anniversary.

KeepSight’s recall strategy is the key enabler to achieving the program’s ambitions of reducing the rates of preventable diabetes-related blindness in Australia.

As explained by Diabetes Australia, for many patients with diabetes, the sheer volume of health appointments required to manage the disease means it can be easy to lose track. On top of this, while many patients know they need an annual eye check, having no noticeable changes to vision can often mean an eye test is de-prioritised.

KeepSight has been developed to complement the existing recall and reminder systems used by optometrists. For Specsavers, the value of collaborating with KeepSight is in ensuring that those patients with diabetes who did not return following a Specsavers recall message now also receive KeepSight reminders and are less likely to fall through the cracks when it comes to their eye health.

Before KeepSight was introduced, patients with diabetes responded to recalls more frequently than patients without diabetes (patients with diabetes were, on average, 11% more likely to respond to a recall). With some disruption due to COVID restrictions, adherence to recall among patients with diabetes has continued to improve after the introduction of KeepSight. In 2021, patients with diabetes were 16% more likely to respond to a recall communication than other patients, demonstrating a growing positive adherence to recall among patients with diabetes.

The number of patients with diabetes seen across the Specsavers practice network also increased from 5.2% of patients in January 2019 to 9.2% in February 2022. In March 2022 alone, more than 11,000 patients who were already registered to KeepSight returned for an eye test, making up more than 50% of KeepSight registrations for the month and showing that Specsavers and KeepSight reminders are helping to ensure patients with diabetes are receiving eye checks within the timeframe recommended by their optometrist.