We’ve talked recently about how diabetes is a growing problem, with thousands of new cases presenting each year and millions more going undiagnosed. But with this epidemic comes an opportunity for the Doctor of Optometry. This opportunity allows them to get involved with patients’ eye and overall health in relation to diabetes. Paula Newsome, OD, saw an opportunity to make a difference in her community and in her patients’ lives, and she decided to act.
About the Crusader
Dr. Newsome’s list of accreditations and accomplishments is impressive, to say the least. As the first African American female optometrist to start a private practice in the state of North Carolina, she’s no stranger to overcoming obstacles. Educational, philanthropic, visionary – these are just a few words to describe her endeavors over the years. Though her career began with overcoming prejudice and building her solo practice in Charlotte, she has since turned her attention to diabetes and is invested in reducing the impact diabetes can have on patients.
The Diabetes Fight
In an article written by the American Optometric Association, Dr. Paula Newsome explains what drew her to this particular battle.
“Understanding the demographics and future projections and noticing what was happening to members of my family and patients in my office, is what really heightened my awareness of the ‘sugaring’ of America.”
With this newfound awareness and after realizing how little she knew about the disease, she decided to become a certified diabetes educator (CDE). A CDE is defined by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE) as “a health professional who possesses comprehensive knowledge of and experience in diabetes prevention, prediabetes and diabetes management.”
- NCBDE exam
- An active professional license
- Current practice experience in the U.S. or its territories
- A minimum of two calendar years of practice experience since receiving the license
- At least 1,000 hours during the past year of diabetes education practice experience (including a minimum of 400 hours amassed in the most recent calendar year before the test)
- A minimum of 15 hours of diabetes-related continuing education
- Renew the certificate every 5 years
On her journey of becoming an expert in the space, Dr. Newsome has completed the CORE Concepts Course through the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). This is one of the two organizations that accredit groups who provide diabetes self-management education that meets certain quality standards. To receive CMS reimbursement for providing diabetes self-management education, a practice’s program and provider must be accredited.
The OD’s Opportunity
Though there are many diabetes programs, Newsome felt something was missing. “In the process of looking at better ways to serve our patients, we looked at programs that were on the market and determined that none of the programs emphasized what we thought was important from an eye care perspective—preventing microvascular disease,” she explained.
Dr. Newsome knows the important role eye care professionals can play in determining the outcomes of patients with diabetes and prediabetes, as demonstrated by the AOA-sponsored study. In the study, patients remarked that they learned more from their sessions than from their PCP. Newsome and colleagues found this statement important, and it helped solidify her ideal that ODs can and should be talking diabetes with patients.
With this, Newsome started KNOC Out Diabetes™, weekly educational, support, and optometry-focused sessions for patients with diabetes or prediabetes. “KNOC” stands for Knowledge – Nutrition – Ocular health – Coaching. With education, she is also encouraging ODs to recommend nutritional supplementation with EyePromise® DVS.
The developers of the DVS formula specifically created it to interfere with the pathways that lead to diabetic eye damage. In a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, the DVS formula demonstrated significant positive effects on eye health in patients with diabetes. Some results include:
- 21% improvement in color vision
- 19% improvement in contrast sensitivity
- 12% improvement in peripheral vision
- No impact on blood glucose levels
In addition to the clinical trial results, DVS was also shown to have a real-world impact on patients’ visual abilities, as shared in a recently published case study. These results convinced Dr. Newsome and many like her to recommend EyePromise DVS.
Learn more about partnering with EyePromise and DVS.
About Dr. Newsome
Paula Newsome, OD, received a degree in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and pursued a residency in Primary Care at the Eye Institute in primary eye care in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She attended optometry school at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB), obtaining her OD and MS in Physiological Optics and completing her thesis on Critical Flicker Frequency and its impact as an early predictor in diabetic retinopathy. She was the first African American female to become a fellow in the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and to hold the position of Chairperson of the Board of Discovery Place in Charlotte, one of the nation’s top 5 science museums. Her medically-oriented private practice in Charlotte targets people with diabetics, glaucoma, and hypertension. As a teacher and a philanthropist, Dr. Newsome continues to work to better her communities, both locally and internationally.