The cost of diabetic macular oedema in the Australian workforce

This year alone diabetic macular oedema (DME) is estimated to be responsible for $2.07 billion in indirect economic costs in Australia, with a significant portion of this to be due to a reduced capacity at work and lost wellbeing as a result of impaired vision.

cost of diabetic macular oedemaAccording to a report by Deloitte Access Economics which was supported by the Macular Disease Foundation Australia and Diabetes Australia, the impact is set to grow in the coming years as the number of people with diabetes is estimated to reach 2.45 million by 2030. The prevalence of DME is estimated to rise by 42% over the next 15 years.

The Deloitte report identified that by 2030, there would be an increase in the number of diabetes cases up to 2.45 million. If 50 per cent of people with diabetes have eye checks, then approximately 4,500 additional people with DME could be identified and potentially receive earlier treatment to prevent serious vision loss, and in turn, reduce the indirect financial and wellbeing cost.

DME is one of the leading causes of legal blindness for working age Australians. It prevents them to work at full capacity, or from working at all. While the condition is preventable, Macular Disease Foundation CEO Julie Heraghty says that many diabetic patients aren’t aware that they are at risk of blindness and could prevent vision loss if they take a two-yearly eye examination for early detection and timely treatment.

In the February 2015 release of Optometry Australia’s clinical guideline document for the examination and management of patients with diabetes, the National Health and Medical Research Council’s recommendation for a diabetic eye examination at least every two years is mentioned on page 6, as is the recommendation that all patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes should have an ocular examination at diagnosis and annually thereafter.

According to the Medicare Benefits Schedule for optometrists, the item number 10915 is a

“Professional attendance of more than 15 minutes duration, being the first in a course of attention involving the examination of the eyes, with the instillation of a mydriatic, of a patient with diabetes mellitus requiring comprehensive reassessment.”

I don’t know a single optometrist who recommends anything other than annual 10915s for their diabetic patients.

Amanda Griffiths – Optometrist and Founder My Health Career.

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