I took advantage of a great opportunity to interview internationally recognized eye specialist Dr. Allen C. Ho who specializes in compassionate state of the art patient eye care and is a leader in the development of surgical treatments and new medical for eye disease. The conversation focused on Diabetic Eye Health, keep is mind November is American Diabetes Month. Be sure to check out the transcribed version of our interview below:
Did you know? Dr. Ho is a volunteer for Eye Care America, serving under-insured Americans with medical need. He is also a member of the Board of the American Diabetes Association of Greater Philadelphia whose mission is to improve the care and quality of life for patients with Diabetes Mellitus.
A new survey found that less than half of adults with Diabetes understand their risk for vision loss. In fact, Diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss amongst Americans between the ages of 20 and 74. And in many cases, if detected early enough it can be treated. I’m Tradina DeMary Baltimore Budget Events Examiner via atombash.com. Joining me today is Dr. Allen Ho to discuss more eye opening surgery results, and to talk about the eye-exam that everyone with Diabetes should be getting once a year.
Tradina DeMary: So Dr. Ho, What did the survey reveal about diabetes and vision loss?
Dr. Allen Ho: Tradina, I think it’s really good timing in November, Diabetes Awareness Month that we talk about this survey which showed that when they interviewed over 1,000 patients with Diabetes more than half those patients were not aware of the risk for vision loss from Diabetic Eye Disease. There’s a little disconnect here because first of all, Diabetes is common and Diabetic Eye Disease is highly feared as a complication from Diabetes. This survey, that was conducted in collaboration with Regeneron really highlighted that 30% of patients with Diabetes, even higher in some other surveys, 40% or up to half of patients with Diabetes are not getting this very important annual dilated eye exam to detect problems early so that we can protect their eyes against vision loss.
TD: And what vision problems affect people with diabetes?
AH: Vision problems with diabetes that’s a very good question. First of all, from the patient’s stand point, you may have no visual symptoms what so ever and be at risk for vision loss. And that’s because Diabetes can slowly steal your vision away. One of the main problems with Diabetic Eye Disease or Diabetic Macularadema is a swelling in the focus point of the eye, and it can come on slowly and you may not be aware of it. So the No. 1 symptom is one potential problem. No. 2 is you can have bleeding or sudden vision loss that can steal your vision from diabetes and these are different ways that you can have vision loss with diabetic eye disease.
TD: What can diabetics do to help protect their eyesight?
AH: Diabetic patients can help protect their eye sight by just all the General Medical Foundation Principals of: choosing good foods, making sure their blood pressure and blood sugars in good control ,that A1C level that blood test your doctor does that’s a report card of how you’re blood sugar has been doing over the past 3 months should be in a good range, getting regular physical activity is important, walking 30 minutes daily is a nice concrete example of what patients can do to help their eyes, avoiding smoking, smoking is a terrible risk factor for diabetic patients and all patients and a risk factor for vision loss. And of course; we want to emphasize that if you have Diabetes or if you know someone that has Diabetes, you really need to get that annual dilated eye exam so we can detect problems early.
TD: And why are people not getting these eye exams?
AH: That’s a really good question. Many people are not getting the eye exam I think because they aren’t having problems. I’m not having a vision problem. I don’t need an eye exam, not true. You need an annual dilated eye exam if you’re Diabetic. The other reason is simply awareness and the survey highlights the fact that even though patients with Diabetes fear vision loss as a complication, they’re not aware that Diabetes increases the risk for vision loss. That’s why we need to direct them, we need to educate them, we need to get the message out that it’s important to get this eye exam, dilated eye exam. Which, by the way, doesn’t hurt at all.
TD: Oh ok, cool. And where can we learn more about this issue?
AH: Information is empowering for our patients and you can learn more at the new website DiabetesSightRisk.com. If you go to DiabetesSightRisk.com, you’ll be able to learn a little bit more about what diabetic eye disease can do to your eye in plain English. You’ll learn about what it’s like to have that painless dilated eye exam and it also can direct you to a local retina specialist if you have vision problems related to diabetic eye disease where you can get care.
TD: Well it was very informative talking to you Dr. Allen Ho and thanks a lot for your time.
AH: My pleasure to be here with you.
AH: Bye Bye.
Well, the interview went well. Keep in mind, regular scheduled eye exams do not just apply to people with Diabetes. The importance of getting a regular scheduled eye exams applies to all. According to The American Diabetes Association, nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have Diabetes. Did you know? MedStar Harbor Hospital will be providing a complimentary community course with MedStar Harbor Hospital Diabetes Educator Cheryl Hodgins to teach Diabetic consumers what they can do to maintain healthy blood without taking another pill. The event takes place at MedStar Harbor Hospital on Thurs. Nov. 19 from 6 pm to 7:30 p.m. Click here for more information about MedStar Harbor Hospital Diabetes online or to register for the Diabetes Awareness event via phone call 410-350-2563.