Dr Vincent Lee was an invited speaker at a Bayer sponsored event - "The Health Challenges of an Ageing Population" held at the Quorum, Warrnambool on 7 August 2018. The meeting was attended by General Practitioners, Pharmacists and Nurses.
Dr Lee spoke about the skyrocketing prevalence of diabetes and its impact on the health of the population, not just the elderly, but also the young, due to Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.
Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO) are the two main eye complications of the disease which can potentially lead to moderate to severe loss of vision if undetected and untreated
The treatment of DR and DMO has undergone tremendous change in the last 10-15 years with the development of drugs that can improve these conditions so much that vision can be restored and maintained at excellent levels for many years, sometimes for the life of the patient. Dr Lee explained how these drugs are used in the eye and showed clinical examples of the benefit of early detection and treatment and the danger of late detection and delayed treatment.
Because early disease can remain undetected for many years and because patients are unaware of the deterioration in their eye health without any hint of vision problems, pain or other symptoms, the important role of GPs is to refer diabetic patients after 3-5 years of Type 1 Diabetes and on diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes to an appropriate eye care professional. Initially, screenings can be performed by an Optometrist and follow ups continued until mild retinopathy is detected at which time referral to an Ophthalmologist is recommended. Because DMO can occur at any stage in the disease (from no retinopathy to severe retinopathy), there should be a low threshold to refer to a medical Eye Specialist even with minimal decrease in vision.