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New retinal scanner helps diagnose diabetic retinopathy

ELKINS — A new technology at Davis Medical Center is designed to help those with diabetes detect diabetic retinopathy in its early stages and avoid possible complications, including blindness. Tiffany Auvil, Nurse Manager of the DMC Population Health Department said the Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems retinal scanner will be used for diabetic patients who are at least 18 years old and do not have a regular eye doctor.

“Patients who already have an eye doctor and see them yearly should continue to do so,” Auvil said. “The IRIS retinal scanner is for patients who don’t have or don’t regularly see an eye specialist.”

According to the American Optometric Association , diabetic retinopathy is a condition that occurs in people who have diabetes and causes progressive damage to the retina, the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes.

The AOA said in its early stages, diabetic retinopathy has no visual symptoms. Early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.

“The IRIS technology allows us to keep an eye on our patient’s eyes,” Auvil said. “The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy and if left untreated, it can cause blindness.”

Dilation of the eye is not necessary to perform the IRIS scan, and the test can often be combined with a patient’s regular visit to their primary care physician which could eliminate the cost of a trip to an eye specialist for similar testing. Once the diabetic patient’s scan is complete, IRIS ophthalmologists read and interpret the results of the images. The results are sent back to the patient’s doctor at DMC within 24 to 48 hours.

According to www.retinalscreenings.com, in 2011 after treating patient after patient with preventable diabetic blindness, nationally-recognized retinal surgeon Dr. Sunil Gupta created IRIS, the Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems, with the mission of diagnosing eye disease early enough to treat it and stop the progression of vision loss. He believed that through innovative and forward-thinking preventative care systems, it would be possible to save the sight of millions of patients.

“IRIS has FDA approval to diagnosis diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, but it cannot diagnosis other things they may see on that image,” Auvil said. “Some people may have other suspected problems like cataracts or age-related macular degeneration. Those patients will be sent to specialists for further diagnosis and treatment.”

The new equipment was purchased with money donated by the DMC Auxiliary and the Davis Health System Foundation.

“We owe a lot of thanks to the DMC Auxiliary and the DMC Foundation,” she said. “Without their generosity, the DMC Population Health program could not have purchased this simple, painless and much needed preventative care system.”

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