New tool assists in screening for diabetes in OD’s office

January 19, 2012

With diabetes on the rise, and an increased focus on optometrists counseling patients on the disease, some ODs are using a six-item questionnaire to help identify patients most at risk.

Developed by the Weill-Cornell College of Medicine at Cornell University, the six-item questionnaire scores risk factors for diabetes, including age, gender, body mass index (BMI), family history, history of hypertension and levels of exercise. Patients scoring more than four points are considered at high-risk.

“Importantly, this new tool has been shown to be more predictive than similar tools previously developed by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” said Paul Chous, O.D., of the AOA Health Promotions Committee. “By asking a few simple questions, health care providers – including doctors of optometry – can rapidly assess patient risk and either perform or make appropriate referrals for confirmatory laboratory testing of high-risk individuals.”

Emphasizing the connection between diabetes and eye health makes incorporating such a tool into optometric practice important and relatively easy, Dr. Chous said.

For doctors uncomfortable with asking about weight status to calculate BMI, asking about waist circumference is a reasonable surrogate; greater than 40 inches in men and more than 35 inches in women reflects abdominal adiposity that often underlies insulin resistance.

“Every practicing optometrist knows that diabetes prevalence is increasing at alarming rates. We see more and more patients with diabetes in our offices every year,” Dr. Chous said. “The CDC estimates that diagnosed diabetes may triple by 2050 to more than 75 million cases in the United States; a child born today has more than a one in three chance of developing diabetes in his or her lifetime.”

The ADA estimates that one in every three persons with diabetes is currently undiagnosed, and research shows that earlier diabetes diagnosis and appropriate management lessens the risk of complications, including eye disease.

Add to this the burgeoning number of Americans with pre-diabetes (more than 78 million), a diagnosis placing them at significant risk for progression to type 2 diabetes within 10 years, and the public health implications of preventing, delaying, diagnosing and treating diabetes are even more striking.

For more information and to view the screening tool online, visit www.annals.org/content/151/11/I-27.figures-only.

One comment

  1. This screening tool should be very helpful in clinical practice. Since many people who skip their annual exams with their physicians still get yearly eye exams because they wear glasses this tool has the potential to pick up many undiagnosed patients who have let their preventative care slip!

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