An excerpt from Optometry Australia’s Optometry Connection Magazine – July issue. Written by Dr Joseph Paul, Head of Professional Services at Specsavers Australia New Zealand.

As KeepSight reaches its third anniversary, it is clear that Australia’s eye examination reminder program is making substantial inroads into the eye health of the 1.5 million Australians with diabetes.

The program was originally developed in response to concerns that up to half of all people with diabetes were not getting eye checks within recommended timeframes. Three years since its launch, the program now has more than 240,000 people enrolled, with around 180 new registrations every day.  Delivered by Diabetes Australia, the program is on track with its long-term goal of screening all patients with diabetes in Australia in a bid to reduce the incidence of vision loss from diabetes, as has been achieved by similar initiatives overseas.

KeepSight is a free reminder program that alerts people with diabetes when their eye checks are due. Most people are registered with KeepSight by their optometrist and reminders complement existing practice recall programs, following up if a person does not respond to recall messages from their eye care provider.

To date around 60 per cent of the optometry sector has integrated the KeepSight system into their own practice management systems. This means registration is quick and easy – for both the practitioner and the person with diabetes. Other optometrists can register people easily via Oculo (recently renamed iCare) or the secure KeepSight website. Diabetes Australia is also keen to talk to providers who may wish to integrate the system into their own practice management software.

Diabetes Australia’s KeepSight Program Director Taryn Black says KeepSight is effective because it reinforces the optometrist’s recommendation of routine diabetes eye checks from a trusted third party (Diabetes Australia) and aims to stop patients falling through the cracks.

“KeepSight presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to significantly boost the number of eye examinations for people with diabetes and in doing so, reduce the number of people who lose their sight.

“When people with diabetes receive a KeepSight reminder, they are directed back to the optometrist who they last saw for a check. This reinforces the optometrist’s role in their ongoing diabetes care and, as we’ve seen, patients are more likely to respond to a reminder from a trusted third party.

“It isn’t another layer of bureaucracy or duplication, it’s just a simple process built into the existing optometry practice workflow which ensures people with diabetes from participating practices are able to receive additional reminders when their eye checks are due,” says Taryn.