PEI optometrists now screening for conditions like diabetes

Dr. Jayne Toombs, President of the Prince Edward Island Association of Optometrists, chats with medical student Brian Garrett.

Expanded coverage of optometry services is reducing the need for referrals to ophthalmologists, visits to family doctors, emergency departments and walk-in clinics.

“Uptake has been excellent for this new program which allows optometrists across the province to screen for conditions such as diabetic retinopathy which can be an indicator of diabetes complications, or red eye which can signal glaucoma,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson. “When eye disease is detected early, patients have a much better chance of reducing damage and managing their diabetes and other conditions.”

The expanded Optometry Service Program, introduced in August 2015 through an annual investment of over $200,000, covers costs associated with the treatment of dry eye, red eye and diabetes retinopathy screening by optometrists.

Since the program began optometrists have seen and treated 2,573 Island patients for dry eye and have screened 143 Type I diabetics for retinopathy and 1,915 Type 2 diabetics for retinopathy.

“This collaborative effort with government and health care professionals has been an excellent opportunity to provide Island patients with better access to these important eye care services,” said Dr. Jayne Toombs, President of the Prince Edward Island Association of Optometrists. “Prevention is key, and screening for these conditions early on gives the patient an increased chance of management or recovery.”

Approximately 14,000 lslanders are living with diabetes and at a higher risk of developing damaging eye conditions such as retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in North America. Early detection and ongoing eye health management can reduce this risk.

Ophthalmologists continue to be responsible for the medical and surgical treatment for complex eye conditions.

Learn more about Diabetes and keeping your eyes healthy.

Media Contact:
Samantha Hughes
Health and Wellness


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