/R E P E A T -- Quebec Medicare Now Covers the Detection and Monitoring of Diabetic Retinopathy by Optometrists /

    MONTREAL, Sept. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - A new Quebec government initiative in
the battle against diabetes will be launched on Thursday, September 10, 2009.
Under this measure, patients now covered by the RAMQ's Optometric Services
Program (persons under the age of 18 or those age 65 and older and persons age
18 to 64 who are recipients of last-resort financial assistance) and who
present a risk factor for ocular health (severe myopia or diabetes) are
entitled to receive a dilated eye exam covered by Quebec Medicare. This change
will make Quebec's optometrists first-line caregivers in the fight against
    By adopting this new rule, which provides RAMQ coverage for dilated eye
exams to diabetic patients, the Quebec government is bringing the province's
700 optometrist offices on board the struggle to control diabetes' impact on
ocular health.
    "This is the first time in 25 years that the Quebec government has
included a new procedure in its Optometric Services Program and we
congratulate the Ministère de la Santé for this undertaking. It responds to
the significantly developing role of optometry in providing superior
first-line care for the public. This is excellent news, particularly for
diabetic patients and for all those engaged in the struggle against diabetes,"
said Dr. Steven Carrier, Optometrist and President of the Association des
Optométristes du Québec.
    According to Diabète Québec, over 500,000 Quebec residents (close to 9%
of the adult population) are believed to have some form of diabetes. The
Medical Council of Canada recommends a detailed eye examination for diabetic
patients when diabetes is first diagnosed and at regular intervals thereafter,
depending on the condition's progression. Optometrists and ophthalmologists
are the only professionals who receive suitable training for offering this
service to the public. Since access to such exams has been restricted until
now, only one out of two patients follow these guidelines and fewer than one
out of four receive periodic follow-ups. These figures are lower than Canadian
standards of practice. If not detected in time, diabetic retinopathy
constitutes an important risk factor for loss of vision and for developing a
visual disorder and therefore represents a major public health concern.
    The new measure will provide facilitated access to the services of 1,100
optometrists throughout Quebec who hold the licences necessary for
administering diagnostic drugs. This effort will accordingly build on the role
of optometrists as critical partners of general practitioners and
ophthalmologists in dispensing eye car. Most optometrist offices throughout
Quebec are equipped with retinal cameras, making it easy to provide
comprehensive follow-up of a patient's condition and, in certain cases, a
quick telemedicine consultation with an ophthalmologist.
    The face of Quebec optometry is changing because the needs of an aging
population are evolving. Optometrists receive state-of-the-art education and
continue to develop their professional skills throughout their active careers
so that they can offer the latest services and technologies. "We are delighted
by the optometrist's expanding role. The recognition and application of our
skills attests to the quality of care that we dispense on a daily basis. In
terms of public health, it is time for all healthcare providers to work
together in constantly improving service to the public!" observed Dr. Carrier,

For further information:

For further information: Dr. Steven Carrier, President, Association des
Optométristes du Québec, (514) 288-6272, Fax: (514) 288-7071; François
Charbonneau, Director General, Association des Optométristes du Québec, (514)
288-6272, Fax: (514) 288-7071, francois.charbonneau@aoqnet.qc.ca;

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Association des optométristes du Québec

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