Innovative firm up for award

A DUNDALK company which screens diabetics for sight damage has been nominated for a healthcare innovation award.

A DUNDALK company which screens diabetics for sight damage has been nominated for a healthcare innovation award.

Foresight Eye Care on Francis Street is in the running for a prize at The Biomnis Healthcare Innovation Awards 2011.

Established in 2005, Foresight Eye Care provides retinopathy screening for people with diabetes as sufferers are at risk of losing their sight.

The images are captured to a computer-based patient record and are interpreted by trained technicians and medical eye specialists.

Foresight Eye Care is an external provider to the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) outpatient waiting list initiative.

According to Foresight Eye Care Dundalk owner, John Smith, the practice provides services to people in Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Cavan.

“Four per cent of the population in Louth suffers from diabetes. Overall, we service 2,000 diabetics in the North East region,” said Mr Smith.

“We provide a service to those people within our society who have statistically the highest incidence of preventable sight loss.”

Diabetic retinopathy is a disorder of the blood vessels at the back of the eye, which generally has no symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage.

The condition is very common with adult onset type II diabetes. Even diabetics who maintain excellent blood sugar control can develop diabetic retinopathy.

“Visual disability relating to diabetic retinopathy leads to increased dependence, potential loss of earnings capacity, and the likelihood of greater social support needs for those individuals,” he said.

“The vast majority of diabetic individuals who lose vision do so, not because of an inability on the part of eye specialist doctors to treat their disease, but rather due to a delay in seeking medical attention.”

The introduction of a national screening programme for diabetic retinopathy in Ireland, based on the North East model, is promised for the end of 2011 or early 2012.

The Biomnis Healthcare Innovation Awards aims to recognise and merit innovation in the provision of healthcare.

This is the fourth year of these awards which have been established to broaden awareness of the need to constantly improve standards of care and patient safety in Irish healthcare.

The winners of the Biomnis Healthcare Innovation Awards will be announced on Friday, May 6 at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin.