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Equitable access to diabetes eye health services

Improving access to eye health services in Aotearoa

Diabetes can cause bleeding from vessels on the retina in the back of the eye, which can lead to vision loss. People with diabetes can prevent the chance of vision loss with good control of their diabetes, and by attending regular retinal screening appointments, so that early changes can be detected and treated.

Our research aims to understand how we can improve diabetes eye care services in Aotearoa so that everyone with diabetes can retain good eye health, by accessing the eye care that they need, when they need it.

Associate Professor Matire Harwood and SOVS PhD candidate Jaymie Rogers describe how diabetes eye care services could be more accessible. 


As part of New Zealand’s first population-based eye health survey we will investigate how many people in New Zealand are living with diabetes, and whether they are accessing the health services that they need.

Please visit our population-based eye health survey page for up-to-date information about the survey.

How are diabetic retinopathy screening services delivered in Aotearoa New Zealand?

The way that diabetes eye screening services are operated differs throughout Aotearoa. In this project we are summarising the range of service models that are currently used, by reviewing documents and talking to people with specific knowledge of diabetes eye screening services across the country. This work will provide evidence that policy makers can draw on to strengthen New Zealand’s diabetes eye care policies.

Research team:
Dr Jacqueline Ramke Profile photo of Renata Watene
A/Prof Jacqueline Ramke Pushkar Silwal Renata Watene

Dr David Squirrel

Funding:  Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC Activation Grant)

Timeline: Throughout 2022

How can diabetes eye care services be more accessible and responsive in Auckland and Counties Manukau?

We are working collaboratively with people living with diabetes, their whānau and service providers to understand where, how, and why people with diabetes become disconnected from diabetes eye care services and identify strategies to improve equitable access and ultimately avoid vision loss.

Research team:

The project team is a partnership between diabetes eye care service providers, planners, researchers and Māori health and wellbeing advocates.

Dr Jacqueline Ramke  
A/Prof Jacqueline Ramke Pushkar Silwal  

Dr Arier Lee, A/Prof Matire Harwood, Dr Corina Grey, Dr David Squirrel, Prof Rinki Murphy, Dr Carol Barker, Mrs Tarati Blair-Hunt

Can people with diabetes access diabetes eye care services?

We have undertaken several analyses of routinely collected data to quantify access to and use of diabetes eye care services. This includes:

  • An analysis of Ministry of Health data on diabetes eye services between 2006-2019 to estimate the biennial retinal screening rate and summarise use of retinal screening and ophthalmology services (currently under review).
  • Attendance at retinal screening and ophthalmology appointments at Te Whatu Ora Counties Manukau, and the patient journey through the appointment and reminder process.
Research team:
Dr Jacqueline Ramke
A/Prof Jacqueline Ramke Deepa Kumar Pushkar Silwal

Dr Arier Lee, A/Prof Matire Harwood, Dr Jinfeng Zhao, Prof Rinki Murphy, Dr David Squirrel, Prof Shanthi Ameratunga