Leading diabetes and eye health groups applauded the Australian Government’s funding announcement for a new national diabetes eye screening programme to reduce vision loss and blindness in people with diabetes.
The Australian-first initiative programme is a major step in the fight against diabetes related blindness and will enable early detection and treatment to protect the sight of over 1.2 million Australians living with diabetes.
Health Minister, Hon Greg Hunt MP, today announced $1 million in funding for year one to commence development of the programmeoutlined in a proposal put forward by leading diabetes and eye health groups. Specsavers has committed a matching $1 million a year for five years.
Diabetes Australia will partner with Vision 2020 Australia, Oculo, Specsavers and engage all leading organisations in the eye health and diabetes sectors across Australia to support this critical initiative.
Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said too many people with diabetes were missing out on eye checks that could prevent them from losing their sight.
“Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working age Australians. We are pleased the Australian Government and industry partners are supporting this important initiative. Other industry partners are expected to contribute funding, and ongoing government funding will be sought for a five-year programme,” Professor Johnson said.
“There are around 600,000 Australians with diabetes who are missing out on the recommended eye checks that would enable early detection and early treatment to prevent blindness.”
Vision 2020 Australia CEO Judith Abbott said the programme would help establish a national system to support eye checks for all people with diabetes.
“This will benefit the 1.2 million Australians with diabetes who are registered with the National Diabetes Services Scheme, providing them with alerts and reminders to have eye checks and creating electronic records that include retinal photos to help coordinate their care.”
“The programme will encourage people with diabetes to visit existing optometry services and specialist ophthalmic service providers for Medicare-funded eye checks and early interventions,” Ms Abbott said.
Optometry Australia CEO, Lyn Brodie said the programme’s intent is to engage all optometry service providers across the nation and create stronger e-health linkages between GPs and other healthcare providers and optometrists.