Latinos are at a higher risk of losing vision to a number of eye conditions, including glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. What can you do to protect your family?
“Our practice strives to offer the latest technology to detect, track and treat nearly every cause of vision loss. But the most advanced equipment and finest services in the state are of no use if people don’t utilize them. Your best protection is to schedule regular, comprehensive eye exams,” emphasizes Brett Rhode, MD, a partner at Eye Care Specialists, a leading ophthalmology practice honored for its work in serving the health care needs of Milwaukee’s Latino community. The following are just a few of the cutting-edge devices and procedures his practice wants the public to know are available.
Diagnostic Laser Scans of the Eye
“With our fast, accurate, non-invasive and painless OCT device, patients simply focus on a light while a safe, invisible laser scans the inside of the eye to acquire an image in just seconds. This ‘optical ultrasound’ of the layers of the retina and optic nerve then generates a detailed computer printout (similar to a CT scan) that enables us to detect, track and treat diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other sight-threatening diseases— sometimes even before any damage occurs.,” explains Daniel Paskowitz, MD, PhD, an eye care specialist with credentials from Harvard and Johns Hopkins. “The information gained from a single OCT scan is often more useful than any other diagnostic tool for protecting vision. If you are at risk for sight loss, you may want to ask about having an OCT scan.”
Medication Injections to Treat Diabetic Eye Disease and Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Diabetes-related blood sugar fluctuations that damage the retina are a major cause of vision loss in Americans under age 65. Compared with the rest of the population, Latinos in every subgroup (Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, etc.) are not only at higher risk of developing diabetes but are also twice as likely to suffer from more severe diabetic complications, including loss of vision. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of central vision impairment in Americans over age 50, affecting the ability to read, drive, see faces, etc. “The use of medication (Avastin, Eylea and Lucentis) injections to protect against these sight-threatening conditions is one of the greatest advances in ophthalmology in the past 50 years,” reports ophthalmologist and continuing education lecturer Mark Freedman, MD. “These injections inhibit the growth of abnormal blood vessels and damaging retinal swelling that can cause vision loss due to AMD, diabetes, and other conditions.”
“Although there are NO guarantees, we have seen remarkable results. With regular injections (about every six weeks), we have been able to stop the progression of wet AMD in 90% of our patients, and even had up to 30% gain improvement in vision,” says Daniel Ferguson, MD, who, along with his fellow doctors at Eye Care Specialists, performs sight-saving injections on a daily basis. He advises people with diabetes and AMD to see if they are a candidate for treatment.
Cataract Lens Implants
Cataracts are another leading cause of visual impairment in the Latino community. Cataract surgery requires making an opening in the eye to remove the cloudy lens (cataract) and replace it with an artificial lens (to once again focus light rays onto the retina). “At our offices, we offer patients a variety of lens implant options to meet their vision, lifestyle and budget needs,” explains eye care specialist Michael Raciti, MD.
Glaucoma Laser Treatment
Glaucoma threatens the sight of one in every 30 people over age 40 and is a leading cause of permanent blindness. (Your risk is even five times higher if you have a family member with the disease.) Optometrist David Scheidt, OD, reminds people, “Glaucoma does not show symptoms until permanent severe damage has occurred. As such, you should schedule regular eye exams at least every two years and possibly more often if there is a history of glaucoma in your family.” Rhode adds, “We typically treat glaucoma with prescription drops (often with only one a day). For some patients, however, laser treatment may be effective in both controlling glaucoma fluid pressure and reducing the need to use drops. Our surgeons are trained to utilize highly specialized SLT and ECP laser procedures for qualified candidates. These treatments take less than 10 minutes at our outpatient surgery center and are covered by Medicare and most insurances. If successful, laser surgery can help to reduce the hassle and expense of buying and taking drops.”
For FREE booklets on any topic above, call 414-321-7035
Since 1985, Eye Care Specialists has provided medical, surgical and laser care for virtually every eye condition to more than 130,000 Wisconsinites at offices on 7th & Wisconsin Ave. (in the Wells Fargo Bank Building across from the downtown Milwaukee Central Library), 102nd & National Ave. in West Allis, and Mayfair Rd. in Wauwatosa. Their team also specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases prevalent in the Latino population, including diabetes, cataracts and glaucoma. Appointments are often covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. If these options are not applicable, arrangements can usually be made to accept cash, check, credit card or financing plan payment. Protect your vision or that of someone you know. Call today for more information or for free educational booklets on cataracts, diabetic eye disease, and glaucoma. Or, visit www.eyecarespecialists.net.
Poor vision is not a fact of life as you grow older. Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam (which is typically covered by Medicare and/or insurance if you have one of the following complaints):
• Sensitivity to light and glare
• Blind spots in your central vision
• Difficulty driving at night
• Holding items closer to view
• Difficulty with reading/close work
• Fading or yellowing of colors
• Vertical lines appear wavy
• Foggy, fuzzy, blurred or double vision