Chronic disease detection: The role of the optometrist
Chronic disease in Canada
The rate of chronic disease is increasing across the country with three out of five Canadians older than 20 having a chronic condition, and four out of five at risk of developing one.[i] Optometrists are well-positioned to support patient engagement in the management of their overall health, including chronic disease.
Early detection of chronic disease by optometrists
- As the front line of eye health and vision care, optometrists perform comprehensive eye examinations that provide a unique opportunity to monitor overall health and detect and monitor the impact and progression of chronic disease.[ii]
- Comprehensive eye examinations can facilitate the identification of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, vascular disease and hypertension.[iii],[iv],[v]
- A significant correlation exists between having an eye examination and the early detection and subsequent intervention for certain systemic diseases.[vi]
- Early intervention for high cost chronic diseases can reduce health care costs and improve health outcomes, and even save lives.[vii]
Swift action required to involve optometrists in detecting chronic conditions
- Promote the role of optometry in supporting a sustainable, patient-centered health care system through early detection of chronic disease.
- Educate the public by promoting the value of comprehensive eye exams to maintain eye health, and to detect and monitor chronic disease through a public awareness campaign
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[i] Elmslie. Against the Growing Burden of Disease. Public Health Agency of Canada. Retrieved on March 15, 2017 at http://www.ccgh-csih.ca/assets/Elmslie.pdf.