CHECKING YOUR SIGHT: Specsavers Gympie Optometrist Ashley Burns uses the OCT machine.
CHECKING YOUR SIGHT: Specsavers Gympie Optometrist Ashley Burns uses the OCT machine. Anuna Flaherty

New diabetes program in Gympie set to save people's sights

A NEW diabetes program is set to help save the sight of many Gympie residents who may not regularly get their eyes checked, putting them at risk of going blind.

The program, called KeepSight, has been developed by Diabetes Australia in partnership with Specsavers, Vision 2020 Australia and the Australian Government and is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prevent diabetes related blindness by detecting problems early when they are treatable.

The initiative is being celebrated by Gympie optometrists who believe regular check-ups are critical.

"In Gympie, there is currently 3430 people living with diabetes. Of those we know 1,715 aren't having regular eye health checks and 515 have already been diagnosed with a vision threatening eye condition,” Co-owner of Specsavers Gympie, Graeme Smith said.

"Unfortunately, this means in Gympie, there are people going blind who shouldn't be.

"KeepSight is a huge step forward in the fight against diabetes-related blindness and will target those most at risk in a systematic way, to ensure people with diabetes are accessing eye checks for early detection and early treatment of problems, which is great news for those living with diabetes in Gympie and their friends and families.”

Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson says KeepSight's aim is to make it easier for people to remember to schedule eye checks.

"Diabetes is a complex condition and people with diabetes need to have a range of regular health checks and tests to manage their condition. It can be time consuming and confusing and sometimes things get overlooked. Many people with diabetes are not even aware they need to have their eyes checked,” Mr Johnson said.

In another step to aid early detection, Specsavers Gympie recently introduced hospital-grade 3D diagnostic technology, OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography), which enables its optometrists to obtain even more detailed information about the eye than ever before.

"By introducing OCT technology into our practice and screening every single patient, we are improving our detection rates of diabetic eye disease and are able to more accurately grade diabetic retinopathy, transforming the way we care for our patients to deliver a new standard in eye health assessment and patient care in Gympie,” Mr Smith said.

KeepSight is funded through a public-private partnership with the government funding $1 million to commence development of the program in the first year and Specsavers committing to co-fund the program, investing $1 million a year for 5 years. Bayer is also providing some funding towards the initiative.

You can register at