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The frequency of eye examinations in people with diabetes

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The findings of the National Eye Health Survey are encouraging, but also identify areas for improvement

This article by Foreman and colleagues in this issue of the MJA1 explores how well people with diabetes are adhering to the 2008 recommendations by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)2 about regular eye examinations. Their report analyses data for a recent population-based sample, the National Eye Health Survey (NEHS),3 which included sizable samples of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The authors found a moderate level of non-compliance with the NHMRC recommendations, particularly among Indigenous people, and they argue that a carefully integrated and accessible diabetic retinopathy screening service for Indigenous Australians is needed.

A number of questions arise. Are the current NHMRC guidelines, which recommend more frequent eye examinations for Indigenous than non-Indigenous Australians, still appropriate in 2017? Are these new data sufficiently robust to reflect current practice in these two groups of Australians? And how would the proposed screening service work in practice, and what models are available for implementing it?

First, there is a concern whether the evidence available in 2017 still supports the difference in recommended eye examination frequency…