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Keywords:

  • costs;
  • diabetic retinopathy;
  • screening;
  • secondary prevention

ABSTRACT:

Australia’s rural and remote residents experience considerably higher hospitalisation and death rates due to diabetes than their metropolitan counterparts. There is clearly a need for improved diabetes care services in these areas and interventions that target conditions associated with diabetes will yield beneficial results for the community. All people with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, which can cause vision loss and blindness. Although vision loss and blindness due to diabetes is nearly 100% preventable through regular eye examinations, 35% of Victoria’s rural population with diabetes do not have their eyes examined on a regular basis. A pilot, mobile screening program for the early detection of diabetic eye disease was conducted in rural Victoria and proved to be a successful model of adjunct eye care for people with diabetes. Actual costs from the pilot screening were applied to a permanent model for rural eye care. At A$41 per participant, costs for mobile screening were competitive with Medicare rebate costs for eye examinations. The model addresses barriers of accessibility and availability, targets a portion of the rural population with diabetes that is not otherwise having eye examinations, and is cost-saving to the Government.