Diabetes affects 5.2% of the population; many of those persons experience loss of vision as one complication of the disease. Occupational therapists are treating these persons, often for other resulting complications (such as stroke or amputations), or are being asked to adapt techniques or equipment (such as insulin-drawing devices) needed for diabetes management.
Because no guidelines exist for occupational therapy with persons with diabetes or vision loss or both, occupational therapists may be unsure of appropriate treatment approaches. Among the approaches described in the occupational therapy literature, common ones include collaboration with other professionals and incorporation of one or more aspects of the diabetes regimen into the person’s life-style.
When addressing persons who have both diabetes and vision loss, therapists consider their own knowledge base as well as the persons’ needs in managing their diabetes. Treatment ideas include enhancing the visual environment or incorporating tactile and auditory feedback with self-management tasks such as testing blood glucose levels. Collaboration with and referral to diabetes and low-vision professionals are adjuncts to therapy and ensure a comprehensive and ongoing diabetes management program.