There are many complications of uncontrolled diabetes such as kidney failure, arterial vascular disease, which can lead to stroke, heart attack and loss of limbs. One of the major complications of this disease is diabetic retinopathy, which is a leading cause of blindness in the United States.
SBNC has recently teamed up with The University of California at Berkeley School of Optometry which is supplying a retinopathy machine known as EyePACS and will provide expert analysis of the retinal images. This should make it easier for low-income patients to obtain screening for diabetic retinopathy. Certified retinal photographers will offer screening to all of SBNC diabetic patients on an annual basis. Images will be sent electronically to UC Berkeley and the results of the analysis will be sent back to the clinician, who will then discuss them with the patient and arrange specialty referral rapidly. “With this new, state-of-the-art retinopathy program, our patients can receive the same level of care provided by most clinics our size,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Charles Fenzi.
The diabetes program at SBNC is designed to provide tools and education to help prevent the dreaded complications of this disease. In order to help detect diabetic retinopathy at an early stage, clinicians examine the back of the eye where the nerves and blood supply of the eye are located in a layer known as the retina. This visualization can be accomplished directly by looking at the eye with magnification using an ophthalmoscope. A better image is obtained by widening the pupil, i.e. dilating the eye with special medication. Recently, an even better view of the eye can be obtained by using machines that provide better magnification. One such machine is the retinal camera which captures an image of the retina after the pupil has been dilated. This image is then examined by an expert who provides the patient’s primary clinician with a report. If the expert reports an abnormality in the retina, the clinician will make arrangements for the patient to be seen by a specialist in ophthalmology, who in turn will take measures designed to preserve the patient’s vision.
Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics realizes the importance of good eye health and is proud to be partnering with the University of California at Berkley on this important aspect of diabetes care.
The mission of Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics is to provide high quality, affordable, comprehensive healthcare to all people regardless of their ability to pay, especially those uninsured and otherwise underserved, while maintaining a welcoming environment and treating patients with compassion, dignity, and respect.