It’s smart to keep an eye on diabetic condition
Diabetes and its complications are becoming more common among the more than 13 million people in the U.S. with degenerative eye diseases. Experts estimate that by 2020 up to a fourth of Americans will be affected with eye diseases and conditions.
One of the most serious diabetic complications is blindness. That’s why Dr. Yu-Guang He, an ophthalmologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says regular eye exams are especially important for patients with diabetes. He is helping to create a convenient device – called myVisionTrack – that lets patients with a degenerative eye disease better track vision changes.
“Many patients do not have timely eye exams and end up suffering preventable vision loss,” he says. “Careful self-monitoring is critical because treatment for age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy is most effective when given at precise stages in the disease’s progression.”
Regular eye exams are still needed for people with diabetes because they help doctors detect lesions associated with diabetic retinopathy before the damage is irreversible. Doctors also can see how diabetes is damaging the rest of the body by checking the condition of blood vessels in the eyes, which is an indication of the health of blood vessels in other parts of the body. Many diabetic complications are the result of damaged blood vessels.
With myVisionTrack, a hand-held digital device at the prototype stage, patients will be able to perform an accurate self-test in less than 90 seconds, Dr. He says. Patients using the device cover one eye, then touch what they perceive to be the odd-shaped circle of three presented on the screen of an iPhone or iPod touch. With each click, the differentiation becomes more subtle. The test is then repeated with the other eye. If a significant vision change is detected, users are instructed to see their doctor.
Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/eyes to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in ophthalmology. Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/endocrinology for more information about clinical services in endocrinology at UT Southwestern, including diabetes.
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.
Media Contact: Robin Russell