Joslin Launches Program To Bring Vision Resources To Local Communities

July 2005 - Joslin Diabetes Center has launched a new affiliation program designed to bring Joslin's world-class vision resources to local communities across the United States and beyond. The first Joslin Vision Network (JVN) affiliation is with Koch Eye Associates in Warwick, R.I.

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most significant complications of diabetes. The problem is compounded because the disease is asymptomatic, especially in the early stages when it is most treatable. Missed or inadequate care can lead to devastating results. But with early detection and appropriate treatment, vision loss can be prevented.

"Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States, and yet most patients do not get recommended care," said Alan M. Jacobson, M.D., Senior Vice President, Joslin Strategic Initiatives Division. "By creating the JVN Affiliate Program and partnering with leading organizations such as Koch Eye Associates, we can bring Joslin's proven techniques in managing eye disease to the millions of Americans across the country at risk for losing their vision from diabetic retinopathy."

The JVN is the only diagnostic retinal evaluation service offering patients a pain-free and non-dilated diabetic eye evaluation that has been validated against dilated eye exams by retinal specialists. The JVN is already in use at more than 35 federal health care sites in 15 states, and implementation is planned at the Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate in Bahrain.

"Our new Joslin affiliation allows us to offer world-class expertise to the estimated 100,000 people in Rhode Island with diabetes, and we are proud to be the first member of the JVN Affiliate Program," said Peter Koch, Chief Executive Officer, Koch Eye Associates. "The Koch physicians will care for our patients with diabetes-related eye disease, and we will collaborate with Joslin on research and care advancements."

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The new Joslin Vision Network Affiliate Program is a clinical service-offering specific to eye care providers that enables them to incorporate the JVN into their practice and outreach programs. Under the program, eye care providers acquire images of patient retinas using the JVN System. The images are then sent to Joslin and evaluated by world-class clinicians from Joslin's Beetham Eye Institute under the clinical direction of Lloyd M. Aiello, M.D., a pioneer in preserving vision among people with diabetes. Dr. Aiello co-developed the JVN with Sven-Erik Bursell, Ph.D., Director of the JVN.

Joslin experts then prepare evaluation summaries and send them back to physicians at Koch for its use in determining treatment plans for its patients. Most insurance plans will cover the costs of the JVN imaging, evaluation and treatment plan.

"Koch Eye Associates has demonstrated a real commitment to ensuring the success of the program," said Dr. Aiello. "Dr. Paul Koch has developed diabetes-specific protocols for the practice and we expect it to become a Center of Excellence for diabetes eye care. With innovative solutions and partnerships like this, we can virtually eliminate vision loss from diabetic retinopathy."

Nationally an estimated 18 million Americans have diabetes; about one-third of them do not know they have the disease (type 2 diabetes). According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults 20 to 74 years of age. Diabetic retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels in the retina) causes between 12,000 and 24,000 new cases of blindness every year. Early detection can prevent or delay blindness due to diabetic retinopathy in 90 percent of the cases.

Source: Joslin Diabetes Center