Martha Jefferson Healthwise - September 2nd

By: Stephanie Satchell Email
By: Stephanie Satchell Email

September 2, 2009

Healthwise gives you news about your health from the experts at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville. This week's topic is diabetic retinotherapy, the blindness that comes with diabetes. It affects as many as 24,000 Americans every year.

CBS19's Stephanie Satchell sat down with Dr. Ellen Sanders of Blue Ridge Ophthalmology to explain this destructive disease.

**Click on the video link above watch the full interview**

Here is a copy of the script:
Q: TALK TO ME ABOUT DIABETIC RETINOPATHY. WHAT IS IT? WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?

A: High blood sugar levels from diabetes cause damage to the retina which is the lining in the back of the eye and this damage is called diabetic retinopathy. We know the duration of diabetes and how high your blood sugars are make you more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy.

Q: HOW DOES DIABETIC RETINOPATHY CAUSE VISION LOSS? I KNOW THERE ARE A COUPLE OF WAYS BUT TALK TO ME ABOUT EACH OF THOSE WAYS THAT CAUSES VISION LOSS.

A: Blood vessel damage from diabetic retinopathy cause vision loss in two ways the first is diabetes causes blood vessels damages blood vessels. And these damaged blood vessels are more likely to break and bleed. Blood develops in the retina and this blood can cause vision loss and also blood can develop in the vitreous which is the jelly in the back of the eye and so that's one way it can cause vision loss.

The second way is that diabetes can cause swelling in the macula. The macula is the area of the eye that's responsible for straight ahead central vision so if you get swelling in the back of the eye; this causes vision loss.

Q: HOW CAN SOMEONE DETECT THIS?

A: That's the interesting point. Sometimes patients come in and have absolutely no symptoms at all and we look in the back of their eye and we see diabetes so that's why it's so important for every patient with diabetes to come in and have a yearly exam because they might not know that they have diabetic retinopathy. So it's really key to come in.

Q: HOW OFTEN SHOULD SOMEONE WITH DIABETES HAVE AND EXAM. MAYBE JUST TALK TO ME ABOUT ADULTS AND EVEN SOME CHILDREN THAT HAVE DIABETES...HOW OFTEN SHOULD THEY HAVE AN EXAM?

A: Adults should have an exam as soon as their diagnosed with diabetes and then they should come in once a year to be examined. Children should come in within five years diagnoses of diabetes and of course if the ophthalmologist sees any damage that's been done they may want to see the patient more often that once a year.

Q: IS THIS TREATABLE?

A: The real key with diabetic retinopathy is prevention. So if we can control the patient blood sugar if we can control their high blood pressure and control cholesterol that is definitely the best way to go prevention is the key. If the patient does develop diabetic retinopathy there are treatments the first is laser. Laser to the retina dries up leaky blood vessels and so that's one, and second is we have injections to dry the macular edema the third is we can use surgery to remove blood from the eye that develops.


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