Now See This—Partnership Addresses Importance of Getting Eye Exams

Mar 1, 2001

According to the Foundation of American Academy of Ophthalmology (FAAO), diabetic retinopathy affects 25 percent of people with diabetes. For the 600,000 Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes, help in preventing this complication is on the way.

According to a January 18 press release, the FAAO and American Opthometric Association have partnered with the Health Care Financing Administration to create an educational program entitled, "Intervention for Increasing Eye Exam Rates for Medicare Beneficiaries with Diabetes." The union was formed in an effort to address the two factors inhibiting patients from receiving eye care-cost and accessibility.

The collaboration also aims to raise awareness about diabetic retinopathy, a swelling of the central retina that can lead to blindness, and stress the importance of getting an annual dilated eye exam as a preventive measure.

The longer you have diabetes, the greater your chance of developing diabetic retinopathy or other eye diseases," warns William S. Tasman, MD, board member of the FAAO. "Even people with normal vision may require proper monitoring and treatment to prevent eye complications due to diabetes. Unfortunately, many people with diabetes are unaware of the preventive measures and treatments available, as well as the variety of programs available that cover the costs associated with treatment."

Through the Diabetes Eye Exam Initiative, Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes may be matched with an ophthalmologist by calling EyeCare America-National Eye Care Project at (800) 222-3937, or with an optometrist by calling the American Optometric Association's Diabetes Hot Line at (800) 262-3947.

The NECP will match seniors who have not had a medical eye exam in the past three years with a volunteer ophthalmologist in their area. The ophthalmologist will perform a dilated eye examination and provide one year of treatment for any condition diagnosed during the first exam, at no out-of-pocket cost to the patient. The NECP volunteer ophthalmologists have agreed to accept Medicare or private insurance as payment in full.

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Eye Care (Retinopathy)

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