People living with diabetes in remote areas of the Goldfields region can now access advanced retinal screening closer to home thanks to a new partnership between the WA Country Health Service and the Lions Eye Institute.
Health Minister Kim Hames said the initiative provided patients with early screening for diabetes-induced vision impairment and used telehealth or communication technology to deliver screening results to regional patients.
Aboriginal health workers and nurses in Leonora, Laverton and Norseman as well as doctors at Kalgoorlie Health Campus have been trained by staff from the Lions Eye Institute to use a Digital Retinography System (DRS) to carry out retinal screening.
Dr Hames said diabetes was a concern in regional areas because the incidence of diabetes was higher in Aboriginal communities.
"Distance is often a barrier to health so the partnership with Lions Eye will play an important role in delivering diabetic care to people in remote parts of the Goldfields," he said.
"Diabetic eye disease has the potential to cause severe vision loss and blindness, but early detection can be the difference in preventing or delaying vision loss."
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said telehealth provided regional patients with timely access to specialist and emergency care.
"Over the last 12 months, $8 million from the State Government's Southern Inland Health Initiative has been invested into the expansion of the telehealth service to the Goldfields region. Goldfields residents will now directly benefit from having access to specialists for retinal screening," Mr Redman said.
Regular screening will help with early detection and treatment of diabetes-related eye disease, possibly saving the patient's sight.
The retinal screening project is part of the $500 million Southern Inland Health Initiative, made possible by the Government's Royalties for Regions program.
Health Minister's office - 6552 5300
Regional Development Minister's office - 6552 6700