November is National Diabetes Month: Theme Focuses on Eye Health

November is National Diabetes Month and Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network’s Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) program is working with community partners and health care providers to improve health outcomes and quality of life among people with diabetes in its five-state network. The theme for this year includes a focus on vision and eye health for aging adults, especially those with diabetes. 

Quality Insights offers free diabetes education classes throughout Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia as part of the EDC program, which is a national initiative of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects nearly 30 million children and adults in the U.S. today. This equals nearly 10 percent of the population or about 1 out of every 11 people. Another 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Of those at risk, 9 out of 10 do not know they have pre-diabetes. 
Specifically, people with diabetes are at higher risk of developing complications with eye health. That’s why it’s especially important for people with diabetes to develop routine eye care visits with their doctor. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that health care costs exceed $500 million/year from diabetic eye disease.
People with diabetes can improve the chance of protecting eye health by following through with routine eye screening and treatment visits. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people with type I diabetes be screened five years after diagnosis and people with type II diabetes be screened at the time of diagnosis (since diabetes may have been silently present for some time). 
Eye health can also be protected through control of blood sugars and blood pressure, which can slow the progress of diabetic disease and make treatments more effective.
EDC classes promote the importance of routine eye exams. 
“Sometimes there is a perception that eye care is just about glasses or contact lenses, but that’s not the case,” Natalie Tappe, MSN, RN, Network Task Lead for the EDC program at Quality Insights said. “We try to make sure that all of our class attendees realize the importance of eye exams as part of an overall health maintenance plan.”  
The EDC program engages patients in weekly group sessions over a six-week period. Participants learn about preventing complications, healthy eating, exercise, self-monitoring, dealing with stress and difficult emotions, managing medications, effective communication with healthcare providers and much more. Additionally, the program engages healthcare providers to improve their adherence to standards of care for people with diabetes and refer patients to the free self-management classes. 
To date, more than 7,200 people have successfully completed EDC classes throughout Quality Insights’ five-state network. Of those, approximately 3,500 were people with Medicare who have diabetes. Graduates have reported weight loss, a gain in confidence, new friendships within the community, and improved blood sugar levels, just to name a few.   
“Managing your or a loved one’s diabetes now can prevent complications in the future,” Rebecca Cochran, MSN, RN, CPHQ, Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network Director, said. “Our free classes provide strategies and tools to help people with diabetes improve their overall health, which will lead to a healthier future.”
 “As we celebrate the upcoming holiday season with families and friends, we want to be mindful of people living with diabetes and the challenges they face every day with the disease,” Tappe said. “Through these classes, they will understand that they are not alone. They can get the information they need to manage the disease and improve their quality of life.”
About Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network 
Quality Insights is the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) for Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Quality Insights collaborates with health care providers, patients and allied organizations across the network to bring about widespread, significant improvements in the quality of care they deliver. Our goal is better care, smarter spending and healthier people. Learn more