New Blood Glucose Meters For the Visually Impaired
Latest products help to maintain independence
By A.Paul Chous, MA, OD, FAAO
As an eye doctor 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 helps 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 a standard meter (Prodigy AdvanceTM), an automatic coding meter (Prodigy AutoCodeTM), and an automatic coding, talking meter that audibly reports ambient temperature (extremes of which are known to affect test accuracy (1)) and blood glucose (Prodigy AudioTM). 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 Audio and 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 (2), and because diabetes is associated with several eye diseases like cataract, glaucoma, ischemic optic neuropathy, retinal vascular occlusive disease (3,4) and even age-related macular degeneration as a function of increased body mass index (BMI) (5), adaptive technologies like these will become an ever more important tool in the arsenal of eye doctors and their patients with diabetes.
I have had the opportunity to work with the Prodigy Audio and Voice meters for several weeks now, and have found them to be extremely user friendly and accurate. Test strip coding errors by patients are a known source of meter inaccuracy (6), as much as +/- 40%, and DDI is one of only a few companies that offer this important auto code feature. The Voice meter has tactilely distinct function buttons that allow easy operation by even totally blind people 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 Voice meter is the first product to receive that organization's A+ Access Award (7).
As a large segment of the blind and visually impaired population in the U.S. 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, as well as my patients, to familiarize themselves with and recommend such products, as well as support companies that exhibit exemplary corporate citizenship.
For more information on diabetic eye disease, consult Dr. Chous' book Diabetic Eye Disease: Lessons From a Diabetic Eye Doctor, Fairwood Press, Seattle, 2003.
Read more about Dr. Chous here.
Visit Dr. Chous' website here.
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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