Keep your eyes on it.

Posted by Carol, Volunteer Mentor @retiredteacher, Sat, Jun 15 4:42pm

Hello Diabetic friends. Having been a diabetic just three years, I continue to learn the ropes to manage this disease. As a teacher, I always had my eye exam before school started, and after I retired, I continued the routine. However, I was not aware that since diabetes, my eyes should be checked by an ophthalmologist who specializes in diabetic vision health. I had been seeing an optometrist (they are not MD's), and they don't know about the medical aspects of diabetes. So, I want to say that for those of us with diabetes, we need to see the best and right MD for our eyes that we can. I had my appointment Friday, and he performed a number of tests on my eyes that the optometrist never did. The MD checked the blood vessels leading to my retina and size and any bleeding and enlargement, and other important tests. I was really surprised, because I never thought about my vision needing more observing by an MD. Luckily, my retina is healthy in both eyes and I don't have any problems. I do have the beginnings of cataracts which will need to be addressed in a year or two. The Dr. said he could do the removal of the cataracts now or prescribe glasses and hold off for a while. I am not anxious for eye surgery so I went with the new glasses.
I hope all of us in the diabetic group realize that the sugar in the blood affects even the small vessels in the eyes. If left untreated, the end result is blindness. That really got my attention. So, I share this with you all in case you are like me and were not aware of this situation. We have to keep our eyes on everything because diabetes touches all parts of the body.
Carol @retiredteacher

@retiredteacher Thanks for that reminder, Carol!

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@retiredteacher I have always only gone to Opthamologists, my mother drilled that into me! My current one does a very thorough exam and although he does not specialize in diabetic patients, I am sure my endocrinologist and my PCP are comfortable with him.
Joslin Clinic in Boston is for diabetic patients and because of the diabetes and eye connection they have some of the best Opthamologists around.
JK

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@contentandwell You are lucky to have all the specialists you need; some small towns are not that fortunate. I had no idea I needed to see a diabetic vision specialist. I never heard of it until my diabetes diagnosis and then just recently was told about the eye specialist. I think there are very good optometrists who can do normal checks, and people wouldn't know they needed a higher degree MD unless they had a problem. Health care is broken in so many areas, especially in small towns, so people have to take what they can get. I am fortunate that I was told and that there is the doctor I needed where I live. I'm sure longtime diabetics already know this, but for those who don't, I wanted to share.
Carol

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@retiredteacher

@contentandwell You are lucky to have all the specialists you need; some small towns are not that fortunate. I had no idea I needed to see a diabetic vision specialist. I never heard of it until my diabetes diagnosis and then just recently was told about the eye specialist. I think there are very good optometrists who can do normal checks, and people wouldn't know they needed a higher degree MD unless they had a problem. Health care is broken in so many areas, especially in small towns, so people have to take what they can get. I am fortunate that I was told and that there is the doctor I needed where I live. I'm sure longtime diabetics already know this, but for those who don't, I wanted to share.
Carol

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@retiredteacher I do not go to Boston for my ophthalmologist, and I do not think mine is a diabetic vision specialist, but he does seem very aware of my needs and he does do an excellent exam. He is one of my few remaining doctors in Manchester.

I always went to ophthalmologists because according to my mother, there are other things that a good ophthalmologist can determine through your eyes beyond your vision. When I lived in Boston and soft contact lenses came out, I did go to Joslin Clinic to get my first pair.

How far are you from a good sized metropolitan area, Carol?
JK

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@contentandwell We are three and a half hour drive from a superior medical system. I do not drive and my husband with his weak eyes is not able to make that trip. We are an hour away from a good medical system, but getting there is a trial by fire. We are about a thirty minute drive to the PCP and eye dr. group that we have for referrals or just routine meds. The hospital is small; I call it more like a clinic. That's the case for most people who choose or have to live in this poverty area. It truly is an area of the haves and the have nots. So far we have had good care since we have insurance and can pay. I would guess from the population that the majority do not have insurance and go to the emergency room where they have to be treated by law. It's not a place I would ever choose to live, but at our ages my husband and I are here for the duration.
Carol

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@retiredteacher

@contentandwell We are three and a half hour drive from a superior medical system. I do not drive and my husband with his weak eyes is not able to make that trip. We are an hour away from a good medical system, but getting there is a trial by fire. We are about a thirty minute drive to the PCP and eye dr. group that we have for referrals or just routine meds. The hospital is small; I call it more like a clinic. That's the case for most people who choose or have to live in this poverty area. It truly is an area of the haves and the have nots. So far we have had good care since we have insurance and can pay. I would guess from the population that the majority do not have insurance and go to the emergency room where they have to be treated by law. It's not a place I would ever choose to live, but at our ages my husband and I are here for the duration.
Carol

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@retiredteacher It really does make it tough as you age to not be close to excellent medical care. If we manage to get our butts moving and get out of this house I will either stay here in the same town, it is a lovely town, or move a bit south on the Route 93 corridor to make the trip to Boston easier. We are very conscious of that. I would like to move to MA but it would increase our taxes a lot so we will not do that.
We can both drive also. My husband always insists on driving if I have an appointment in Boston even though I am perfectly capable of driving into the city — heck, I lived there and I am used to traffic! Some of my MGH appointments are in satellite facilities north of Boston (Danvers and Waltham) so that helps.
JK

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After decades of living abroad, I was diagnosed with Diabetes 2 on retirement in USA.13 years ago. Reading the literature, I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist with expertise in diabetes. My investment was well worth it. On my first visit there were no diabetes related problems but he found a likely cancer under my eye. Who could imagine? Then what really impressed me " I can do the surgery, fully qualified. But there is a surgeon in town who specializes in eye surgery." I went to her for successful surgery and continue to see this wonderful ophthalmologist yearly.

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@madagascarjoan You were very fortunate to find such good medical professionals!

After your surgery for cancer, did you need any follow up treatment like chemo or radiation? Is cancer near the eye rare?

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No follow up treatment needed. We had agreed in advance to remove it and additional relevant material to test for possible spread. There was none. Caught small and early. It was a long cut;not sure what I expected but was longer! I had told her I had no concern re scare, only removal. "I do, It's my reputation." with a smile. No scar visible now. Rare? I have no idea. I had never heard of any but my own experience was so speedy, found, removed, recover, followup visits with both doctors, that I did no further research. I was very fortunate.

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