Diabetes is on the rise and has been for the last decade. With no end in sight to the unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle that has become all too common today, this number will likely continue to increase. While diabetes isn’t necessarily a specialty for most ODs, it should be common practice to have these types of conversations with your patients, for their benefit and yours. Alexia Vaughn, OD, MS, MBA, explains how she incorporates healthy living and diabetes education into her daily talk track.
First and foremost, you should have a general understanding of diabetes as a whole: what it is, how it affects the body and the eyes, and how to combat these effects. You should know the differences between the most common types of diabetes (type 1 and type 2), the risks of each, and the signs and symptoms. This background knowledge not only helps you better educate your patients, but it also helps you establish a level of credibility with your patients.
Next, emphasize how important annual eye exams are. We know this is likely already included in your daily conversations, but the added risk of vision loss due to undiagnosed diabetes or other eye health issues can help drive home the idea.
Finally, know who among your patient base is most at risk. Knowing this can help narrow down those who most need to hear this new talk track, as well as who will need the most monitoring. The African American, elderly, and overweight populations are most at risk.
Helping Patients Make the Connection
Now that you have the knowledge, it’s time to share it with your patients. Dr. Vaughn feels that a lack of education and awareness is one of the biggest problems in today’s diabetes pandemic.
“…so many people are affected and become blind just because they do not have the education to prevent diabetic complications. The health disparity is glaring, and I feel a responsibility to try to help close the gap.”
However, if you’re overwhelmed by the disease, you can imagine your patients will be, too. Simplicity is your friend, but there needs to be a sense of urgency and seriousness. Here are some suggested phrases from Dr. Vaughn to include in your patient conversations:
- Diabetes is a health concern that can cause blindness.
- Patients with or at risk for diabetes should have a diabetic eye exam at least once a year.
- African Americans are more at risk of blindness from diabetes complications.
- Using technology, you can show patients the level of risk/damage with devices that take digital photos of the inside of the eye and the layers of the retina.
- It’s good to know that patients with diabetes have a higher risk of developing occasional dry eye, and severity increases if the issues are not identified and cared for quickly.
Updating Your Care Protocol
When it comes to diabetes, it can feel like there is little eye care providers can do besides watch and wait. However, Dr. Vaughn disagrees, and so do we. Vaughn tailers a care protocol for each patient based on their needs, giving them lifestyle advice, diet enhancements, and a follow-up appointment. Additionally, you can add an eye health nutraceutical clinically designed to support the eye health of patients with or at risk for diabetes to your recommendations.
Working with A. Paul Chous, MA, OD, FAAO, CDE, EyePromise developed a science-based eye health nutraceutical to help patients reduce the impact of diabetes on the vasculature of their eyes while improving visual function. Each ingredient in EyePromise DVS was specifically chosen for its positive impact on eye and vascular health in patients with diabetes.
When put to the test in the 2015 clinical trial called the Diabetes and Visual Function Supplement Study (DiVFuSS), this formulation produced the following results:
- Improved color vision
- Improved contrast sensitivity
- Improved peripheral vision
- Reduced LDL and increased HCL
- No impact on blood glucose levels
Although many patients (and we) could afford to be living healthier lives, when it comes to diabetes, it becomes a heavy focus with a potentially substantial outcome. Now as a well-informed, proactive eye care professional, you can do more than just watch and wait. Give your patients the lifestyle advice to help get them moving towards a better outcome and offer them an innovative eye health nutraceutical to help improve their vision and benefit their long-term eye health.
Learn more about talking diabetes in your practice and recommending EyePromise DVS with Dr. Nate Lighthizer’s 10-video series:
- Why Choose EyePromise? (00:01:50)
- Rates of Diabetes & the Diabetes Epidemic (00:01:50)
- The Eyecare Practitioner’s Role in Managing Diabetes & Vascular Health (00:01:59)
- What Is DVS & Why Should You Consider It? (00:01:56)
- DVS Ingredient Highlight Pt. 1 (00:01:49)
- DVS Ingredient Highlight Pt. 2 (00:01:54)
- Diabetes & Eye Health (00:01:50)
- Study Highlight: DiVFuSS (00:02:08)
- The DVS & Diopsys Case Study (00:02:07)
- Appropriate Patient Types for EyePromise DVS (00:02:16)