Diabetes and its impact are well-known among the healthcare community, including eye care professionals (ECPs). However, it seems that in recent months, there have been more and more conversations being had about it and the ECP’s role in the scheme of patient care. Sites like Review of Optometry, Optometry Times, Healio, and New Grad Optometry have all agreed that ODs have an opportunity to play an important part in caring for patients with diabetes and make a difference.
How ODs Can Get Involved
Dr. Kevin Cornwell wrote,
“Our patients frequently ask us how they can optimize or maintain their ocular health. Many times, these patients are interested in or are already supplementing with over-the-counter eye vitamins such as AREDS formula or Ocuvite. While these antioxidant supplements are appropriate in most cases of early to moderate age-related macular degeneration, there is a lower hanging fruit known as Type 2 diabetes that needs to be addressed among our patients.
Unfortunately, if you’re obese, or smoke, or have metabolic syndrome/Type 2 diabetes, there’s really no way a supplement is going to be as effective as simply addressing the elephant in the room: optimizing metabolism – reclaiming homeostasis between insulin and glucose.”
While he’s correct in the fact that gaining control over blood glucose levels is the priority for patients with diabetes, there is an eye health nutraceutical like AREDS 2 but specifically designed for these patients. EyePromise® DVS was formulated with ingredients proven to protect retinal health and mitigate the degradation of eye health in patients with diabetes. The chosen ingredients were put to the test in the Diabetes and Visual Function Supplement Study, where it resulted in the following without impacting normal blood glucose levels:
- Color vision
- Contrast sensitivity
- Peripheral vision
- Vision in low light conditions
- Blood pressure
- “Bad” cholesterol
- Neuropathy symptoms
What This Means for ECPs
EyePromise DVS is intended for patients with both diabetes and pre-diabetes. This gives ECPs the opportunity to offer a non-medical solution to their patients’ eye health issues, but the key to maintaining healthy long-term vision is early intervention. Ultimately, the message of the ECP should be similar to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommendations.
The ADA suggests the first step for patients with diabetes is to improve their lifestyle with healthy nutrition and regular exercise. Therefore, adding the benefit of DVS in your care regimen to supplement any nutritional deficit means that the conversation can then sound like, “To complement ‘lifestyle therapy’, we have a nutritional supplement proven to protect your eye health from complications caused by diabetes.”
Working With Other Healthcare Professionals
An important point to note is that communication is key, and healthcare providers need to work as a cohesive unit to care for patients with diabetes, starting with the primary care physician (PCP). They are the hub in which specialists and other health professionals go through for patient care. If the patient also sees an endocrinologist for their diabetes, it’s important to include them in the coordination of care. Beyond these caretakers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote a guide to help pharmacists, podiatrists, optometrists, and dentists know their role in the patient process and how best to work together. These guidelines also share tips on speaking with patients and helpful additional resources.
The moral of the story is this: ECPs on the front line and often times the first to notice signs of diabetes. Therefore, they can and should be involved in the care of patients with diabetes. More than eye care, you can spearhead the proactive care aspect of the diabetes healthcare team and be a second arm to the PCPs.