PHILADELPHIA — Education, along with a screening reminder card, may encourage more patients to get diabetic retinopathy eye screening exams, according to a presenter here at the annual meeting of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
The NIH has stated that early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness from diseases such as diabetic retinopathy by 95%. In many instances, a comprehensive, dilated eye exam could detect the disease, which is often asymptomatic, while there are still treatment options to preserve vision.
Marcia Petterson, DNP, FNP-BC, APRN, University of Kansas Health System, Kansas City, presented a poster on her pilot study involving 13 of her patients with type 2 diabetes from an underserved section of Kansas City who are not completely compliant with their medications. She added that these patients were previously not fully aware of the complications of diabetes, particularly the potential consequences of not getting an eye screening exam.
Her poster indicated these patients were given information about diabetic retinopathy during a diabetic clinic appointment, several tests, and a screening/reminder card. This card, she wrote in her poster, provided instructions to the patient to schedule an appointment with an eye care specialist, have that specialist sign that card and return it in the mail. She said four of these cards were returned, suggesting four diabetic retinopathy eye screening exams occurred, she wrote.
Petterson told Healio Family Medicine visual aids such as those from the National Eye Institute that can show patients what diabetic retinopathy looks like can also help underscore the need for the diabetic retinopathy eye screening exams with patients.
“It finally clicked with my patients after they saw the pictures,” she said. “They said, ‘Oh yes, that makes sense, I need to get my eyes examined.’”
Petterson suggested that health care professionals remember to look at the broader picture of diabetes as well.
“We sometimes get so wrapped up in getting a patient’s numbers right, such as getting their fasting blood sugars below 150 mg/dL , that we sometimes forget about certain complications of diabetes,” she said. “Diabetic retinopathy is one of those complications that if treated early, it can be prevented.”
Petterson’s comments closely align with those of Rishi P. Singh, MD, a retina specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute, who told Healio Family Medicine last year that primary care doctors are the “front line of care between a diabetic patient and eye physician.” – by Janel Miller
Petterson M. “Increasing compliance rates for diabetic retinopathy eye screening exams.”
Abstract 17.3.062. Presented at: American Association of Nurse Practitioners National Conference; Jun. 20-25, 2017; Philadelphia.
Disclosure: Healio Family Medicine was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.