Beaudesert optometrists join Diabetes Australia in fight against blindness

KEEPSIGHT: The joint initiative aims to remind people with diabetes to have their eyes checked.
KEEPSIGHT: The joint initiative aims to remind people with diabetes to have their eyes checked.

A PROGRAM set to help save the sight of people with diabetes who are not having their eyes checked often enough and are at risk of going blind has been launched in Beaudesert.

The program, called KeepSight, was developed by Diabetes Australia in partnership with Specsavers, Vision 2020 Australia and the Australian government to help prevent diabetes-related blindness by detecting problems early, when they are treatable.

Specsavers said people registered with the National Diabetes Services Scheme and those who sign up to the service would receive important eye health information and notifications when they had appointments due.

Beaudesert optometrists said it was critical that people with diabetes had regular eye health checks and without reminders, many people with diabetes would not have the health checks they needed.

Specsavers Beaudesert optometrist Steven Lyhne said there were currently 24,357 people living with diabetes in the region, many of whom lived in Beaudesert.

"Of those, we know 12,179 are not having regular eye health checks and 3,654 have already been diagnosed with a vision-threatening eye condition," he said.

"Unfortunately, this means in Beaudesert there are people going blind who shouldn't be.

"KeepSight is a huge step forward in the fight against diabetes-related blindness and will target those most at risk in a systematic way to ensure people with diabetes are accessing eye checks for early detection and early treatment of problems, which is great news for those living with diabetes in Beaudesert and their friends and families.

Diabetes Australia chief executive Professor Greg Johnson said KeepSight's aim was to make it easier for people to remember to schedule eye checks.

"Diabetes is a complex condition and people with diabetes need to have a range of regular health checks and tests to manage their condition," Professor Johnson said. 

"It can be time-consuming and confusing and sometimes things get overlooked.

"Many people with diabetes are not even aware they need to have their eyes checked.

"Once people are registered with KeepSight, they will receive reminders and prompts to have regular diabetes eye checks.

"If you have diabetes, it only takes a minute to register at keepsight.org.au.

"Your details will be securely held by Diabetes Australia and only used to help you keep your sight."

KeepSight was funded through a public-private partnership with the Australian government funding $1 million to start development of the program in the first year, Specsavers committed to a $1 million annual investment for five years and Bayer also providing some funding towards the initiative.

People with diabetes can register for reminders at keepsight.org.au