Background: Diabetes is a major cause of vision loss and blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, however up to 98% of blindness from diabetes is preventable with early detection and timely treatment. NHMRC guidelines require annual eye exams for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes, yet only 20% receive this care. Adequate knowledge and awareness of eye care is crucial to routine diabetes care and diabetes self-management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Objective: To describe and encourage the uptake of appropriate initiatives and educational resources for diabetes educators to support their role in ensuring timely and appropriate eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes.
Method: Diabetes educators are health care providers who are actively involved in diabetes care and the prevention of diabetes complications, including diabetic eye disease. A review of the key elements of a diabetes educators’ diverse role was undertaken to identify where resource support exists and where additional initiatives are needed.
Results: Local, regional and national initiatives and resources have been developed in diabetic eye disease and care that support diabetes educators in their role. These include a new Medicare item for retinal photography to support retinal screening, clinical guidelines and educational training modules on diabetic eye health to improve assessment and skills, and patient education and health promotion materials to support the patients and health care providers. An improved understanding of the clear pathways of care is needed to ensure patients receive appropriate eye care.
Conclusion: It is important to provide appropriate support to diabetes educators for effective diabetic eye disease prevention and care to ensure annual eye checks form part of routine diabetes care. This has important implications to Close the Gap for Vision.