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New Blood Glucose Meters With the Eye Care Professional In Mind

Mar 11, 2008

Paul Chous, MA, OD, FAAO has had type one diabetes for over 30 years. He knows first hand the value of testing his glucose. Today he focuses on the New Blood Glucose Meters With the Eye Care Professional In Mind

New Blood Glucose Meters With the Eye Care Professional In Mind

A. Paul Chous, MA, OD, FAAO
Tacoma, WA

As an optometric physician with a practice emphasizing diabetes eye care and education, as well as a patient with type 1 diabetes mellitus for forty years, I am constantly evaluating new products and technologies to help improve blood glucose control and make patients’ lives with diabetes easier.  I am pleased to report that I have recently encountered a new line of blood glucose meters and a company that help our patients with diabetes, most especially those with visual impairment, achieve these goals.

The Prodigy line of home blood glucose testing systems, made by Diagnostic Devices, Inc. of Charlotte, NC (www.prodigymeter.com), includes an automatic coding meter (Prodigy AutoCodeTM  Non Talking), and an automatic coding, bi-lingual talking meter that audibly reports ambient temperature (extremes of which are known to affect test accuracy ) and blood glucose  (Prodigy AutoCodeTM Talking). The company’s newest offering, the Prodigy VoiceTM, not only is codeless and talks, but is ergonomically designed to be set up, calibrated and reliably operated by patients who are totally blind.

With the recent withdrawal of the much larger and significantly more costly Accu-Check Voice MateTM from the market, the Prodigy AutoCode and Prodigy Voice devices are the only blood glucose meters specifically designed for the visually impaired and blind, and DDI has made every effort to make their meters both affordable and accessible. Because diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new blindness in Americans under the age of 74 years , and because diabetes is associated with several ocular pathologies like cataract, glaucoma, AION, retinal vascular occlusive disease , and even age-related macular degeneration as a function of increased BMI , adaptive technologies like these will become an ever more important tool in our arsenal.

I have had the opportunity to work with the Prodigy AutoCode and Prodigy Voice meters for several weeks now, and have found them to be extremely user friendly and accurate compared with the gold standard HemoCue 201. Test strip coding errors by patients are a known source of meter inaccuracy , as much as +/- 40%, and DDI is one of only a few companies that offer this important auto code feature. The Prodigy Voice meter has tactilely distinct function buttons that allow easy operation by NLP patients with just a little practice. What impresses me most is that DDI designed this meter with direct feedback and consultation from visually impaired and blind patients representing the Diabetes Action Network of the National Federation of the Blind, and the Prodigy Voice meter is the first product to receive that organization’s A+ Access Award .

As a large segment of the blind and visually impaired population in the US and Worldwide have diabetes, and as diabetes complications account for an increasingly larger percentage of health care dollars, devices that enable all patients and their health care professionals alike to provide better self-care make absolute professional, economic and ethical sense. I strongly encourage my colleagues in eye and diabetes care to familiarize themselves with and recommend such products to their patients with diabetes, as well as support companies that exhibit exemplary corporate citizenship.

Dr. Paul Chous specializes in diabetes eye care and education in Tacoma, WA. He is the author of Diabetic Eye Disease: Lessons From a Diabetic Eye Doctor (Fairwood Press, 2003) and feature writer for the web sites Diabetes in Control (www.diabetesincontrol.com) and dLife – Your Diabetes Life (www.dLife.com). Dr. Chous lectures and writes frequently on the subjects of diabetes and diabetic eye disease. He has had type 1 diabetes since 1968.

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