Surveys indicate that eyesight is the one sense that Americans fear losing most. Several weeks ago, I examined a patient who complained of “sudden” onset vision loss, had not had an eye exam in five years, hadn’t seen any doctor in three years, and had discontinued taking prescribed diabetes medications. My examination revealed large vitreous hemorrhages in each eye and fibrovascular scar tissue consistent with a diagnosis of severe proliferative diabetic retinopathy, a condition the severity of which had taken some time to develop. The patient required surgical intervention by a retinal specialist, but the prognosis for restoring vision is poor. Perhaps most tragically, this very nice patient is merely in the third decade of life.
Many serious eye conditions cause few or no symptoms until significant damage and permanent vision loss have occurred: this is especially true for eye disorders commonly caused by diabetes.
This is a disaster that could have been avoided. Have your patients schedule an eye examination at least annually, or as often as your eye doctor recommends.
Dr. A. Paul Chous; eye doctor, diabetes educator, and author of the highly-acclaimed book, Diabetic Eye Disease: Lessons from a Diabetic Eye Doctor.
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