“The eyes are part of a whole person”: Diabetic Retinopathy Barometer Latin American Advocacy Workshop
Session presentations built a strong case to address diabetes and vision-related complications in Latin America:
- The prevalence of diabetes and the risk of developing complications will continue to rise with demographic ageing. Taking a life course approach to diabetes management can help prevent strain on health systems.
- In addition to vision function itself, DR is a biomarker for a number of other serious conditions associated with diabetes, including cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart disease, renal disease, and neuropathy.
- Early detection of DR among people with diabetes was identified as an important step to achieving maintained vision. Once detected, there are a number of treatment options for diabetic eye diseases for patients and physicians to be aware of and have access to.
Vision complications are an important part of diabetes care and there are gaps in the care pathway to be addressed. While each country has some measures in place, the scope of policies, services, and funding is incomprehensive. Suggestions to address these gaps included:
- Empowerment of patients and primary care practitioners through better reach and uptake of educational tools, along with improved collaboration between primary care and diabetes and vision health specialists.
- Stronger information management systems for referral processes can also work to enhance uptake of screening and treatment.
- Involvement of all stakeholders in the process, including but not limited to patient organizations, primary care providers, diabetes specialists, eye health specialists, government, and industry.
Key opinion leaders presented country case studies, with several common themes emerging:
- The underestimated prevalence of diabetes among the population due to poor epidemiological data;
- The potential for increasing access to screening using innovative screening practices such as telemedicine and smartphone technology; and
- The importance of a strong public health system to improve overall access to diabetes management.
The breakout group discussions identified country-specific issues and specific targeted strategies were then developed to address these including the establishing a coalition or working group, communication plans for educating for patients and physicians, and further local stakeholder engagement.
The DR Barometer Program microsite (www.drbarometer.com) will feature the workshop presentations and other resources as the communities of practice develop. In addition, the DR Barometer European Advocacy workshop will be hosted on 14-15 September in Italy. Each country group’s plans will be implemented with follow-up by the IFA.