American Optometric Association Releases Second Edition of Diabetes Clinical Practice Guideline

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ST. LOUIS—Citing the significant public and economic burden posed by diabetes in the United States, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has issued its revised, evidence-based clinical practice guideline on the disease for doctors of optometry and other health professionals who deliver care to patients with diabetes.

The AOA's “Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline: Eye Care of the Patient with Diabetes Mellitus, Second Edition” recommends 31 actions doctors of optometry can take to enhance the care they provide to patients with diabetes. The guideline represented two years of revision by the AOA's Evidence-Based Optometry (EBO) Committee, using a systematic and rigorous clinical review process. The previous evidence-based AOA guideline on diabetes was published in 2012, according to an announcement this week.

An estimated 12 percent to 14 percent of Americans have diabetes and its financial burden was more than $400 billion in 2017, according to the guideline.

“Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in this country and, as America's eye doctors, we can make an impact on the lives of millions of Americans who have the disease," AOA president Barbara L. Horn, OD, said in the announcement. She also thanked the EBO committee for its considerable and significant work.

"Doctors of optometry are often the first health care provider to examine persons with undiagnosed diabetes,” Dr. Horn added. "This updated, evidence-based guideline provides them with recommendations for the timely diagnosis and appropriate care of these patients. A handy reference, it should be in the practice of every doctor of optometry and any health professional who manages the care of patients with diabetes."

EBO committee chair Diane Adamczyk, OD, said the content of the newly revised diabetes guideline is “stellar,” with a wealth of good information for doctors, whether they are new or seasoned on the subject. “Diabetes is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in the United States," Dr. Adamczyk said. "It often appears first and is discovered first through an eye exam.”

The AOA has reported that doctors of optometry found more than 301,000 patients with diabetes-related eye manifestations in 2018 who did not know they were prediabetic/diabetic. The purpose of a clinical practice guideline is to provide guidance to the clinician, specifically to the optometrists in providing eye care that's based on the most current, highest-level, scientific evidence, which then makes giving the best care to patients possible.