ST. LOUIS—The American Optometric Association (AOA), in partnership with the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Retinal Specialists and the National Eye Institute, announced a new resource to improve communication between diabetes care clinicians and eye health clinicians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of all people with diabetes don’t receive an annual dilated and comprehensive eye exam as recommended or are diagnosed with diabetes-related eye problems too late for effective treatment.

In addition, an ADA survey found that health care professionals (HCPs) and eyecare professionals (ECPs) prefer an efficient exchange of information to increase patient co-management.

The ADA convened leading eye health organizations to address the root of these communication issues and developed the new Eye Care Interprofessional Communication Protocol. The protocol includes two algorithms with narrative explanations detailing the recommended processes for eyecare-related communications.

The first algorithm focuses on appropriate referrals and eyecare coordination for patients diagnosed with diabetes. The second algorithm offers guidance for eyecare professionals who want to refer patients suspected to have undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes.

“Efficient communication between all parties can help people with diabetes take action to slow the progression or reverse the damage of diabetes-related eye disease, heal and protect vision. As we continue to tackle the needs of health care professionals and people with diabetes, we are excited to release this communication tool and continue the fight for improving outcomes for people with diabetes through better eyecare,” said Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer for the ADA.

“Every patient is different, but one barrier to care remains universal—provider-to-provider referrals can be complex, delayed and disorganized,” said AOA president Robert C. Layman, OD. “This protocol helps providers understand which steps to take next to provide the best care coordination possible for their patients. This quick response can lead to improved outcomes in patients living with diabetes.”

As part of the ADA’s ongoing commitment to increase awareness about the connection between diabetes and eye health, the Focus on Diabetes initiative, in partnership with Visionary Partners, VSP Vision and Regeneron, supported this effort.

Download the free protocol.