Horizon Health Increases Access to Diabetic Vision Screenings

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Horizon Health Increases Access to Diabetic Vision Screenings

Diabetes can damage more than feet. It can also cause major eye problems, including blindness.

That's why Horizon Health has purchased a digital retinal camera for the Paris Clinic through federal grant funds and support from the Horizon Health Foundation of East Central Illinois. Primary healthcare providers can use the camera to perform diabetic eye screenings during routine office visits.

Providers will screen for diabetic retinopathy–a diabetes complication that affects the eyes. It is the leading cause of blindness in American adults, and occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina.

“This high-tech device helps ensure diabetes patients retain their eyesight and have access to early detection of potential problems,” said Lisa Henson, RN, outpatient clinic manager–family practice.

People with diabetes should see an optometrist once a year for an annual eye exam. Unfortunately, not all patients do that, Lisa said.

The retinal camera does not replace an annual diabetic eye exam, Lisa explained. It is an additional tool to help identify early stages of diabetes-related eye complications and prevent them from worsening.

“If we see any problems, we can refer patients to an optometrist or ophthalmologist,” Lisa said.

The retinal screenings also will allow Horizon Health to meet national quality measures for monitoring and managing diabetes. Nationally, a key measure states that diabetes patients age 18 to 75 get an annual eye exam. At Horizon Health, only 13 percent of those patients have a documented diabetic eye exam, according to recent patient data.

The RetinaVue 700 Imager is a hand-held device that provides a fast, comfortable screening without chemical dilation of the eyes. Screening results are sent to an offsite location where they are reviewed by an ophthalmologist. Those findings are then included in the patient’s electronic health record.

In addition to diabetic retinopathy, people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes have an increased risk for glaucoma and cataracts.

“The longer you live with uncontrolled diabetes, the more likely you are to develop complications,” said Leighsa Cornwell, RN, certified diabetes educator at Horizon Health. “That’s why lifestyle changes and learning to manage diabetes is so important.”

Horizon Health offers a robust diabetes education program within its Center for Diabetes & Endocrinology. The education program provides guidance related to carbohydrate consumption, lab results, blood sugar medications, exercise, and more. It also collaborates with podiatry and nutrition services.