Ophthalmology developing new diabetic eye care program  (2024)

A common side effect of a diabetic’s uncontrolledblood sugar is damage to the eyes.

The condition, called diabetic retinopathy, can lead to blindness andis one of the most common complicationsof diabetes. Approximately 4 million people in the United States are living with the disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to its commitment to researching diabetic retinopathy, theDepartment of Ophthalmologyat Indiana University School of Medicine is working to establish aDiabetic EyeCare Program, which would offer specialized treatment for those who suffer from the disorder.

Thisprogram isa “collaborative unit involving a multidisciplinary approach in treating patients with diabetic eye disease and improving clinical outcomes,” said ophthalmology faculty memberDenis Jusufbegovic, MD, who is leading the charge toward theprogram’screation.

Diabetic Eye Care Programwould allow doctors to work more closely while managing patients’ diabetes; havediabetic educators present on site in the clinic; provide social and psychological support to patients; and lead IU telemedicine screening programs.

Patientswould be seenat the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute and a planned satellite office. 

Here,  Jusufbegovic answers questions about the futureprogramand whyit’simportant: 

How did plans for the Diabetic Eye CareProgramcome about? 
A plan for thisprogramcame from a fundamental idea that our department is the only academic institution in the state and it is in a great position to serve as a leading place for diabetic eye care in Indiana. 

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of permanent vision loss in the working-age population (ages 18-65) and has a significant impact on the quality of life in diabetic patients. Incidence and prevalence of diabetes and, consequently, the incidence and prevalence of diabetic retinopathy are significantly on the rise in the U.S., including in Indiana, and there is a significant need for diabetic eye care. We are also in a great position because IU School of Medicine has one of the world-renowned centers for diabetic research,theCenter for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases.

Why is it important to have aprogramlike this in Indiana? 
By creating a specialized clinic and focusing specifically on diabetic eye care, we will be able to improve patients’ outcomes through a focused and collaborative approach, which will benefit patients in Indiana. Our existing clinics alreadyhavetrained diabetic educators (from the IU diabetic education team) who are providing diabetic education to our patients. We will also focus on improving communication methods with physicians managing diabetes. Our goal is to have dedicated social workers and support groups for our patients. 

What complications of diabeteswill be addressedbythisprogram? 
The primary goal of theprogram is to focus on patients who already have vision-threatening complications from diabetes, such as diabetic macular edema, proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and tractional retinal detachment. Our goal is also to work closely with the patients and prevent the progression of their retinopathy. 

Will any research be donethere?
Yes, researchwill be donehere. We participate in DRCR Retina Network, which is the preeminent research network conducting clinical trials in ophthalmology. Having a specialized clinic for diabetic patients will improve our ability to recruit patients for clinical trials. Additionally, we will be working closely with our basic science department to conduct translational research projects to advance our understanding and treatments for diabetic retinopathy. 

How will the program utilizetelemedicine eye screenings?
Our department is working closely with the primary care department in establishing a telemedicine screening program. We are currently finalizing thenuts and boltsof our program and will be using the Welch Allyn system to screen patients in primary care offices. Our clinicians will be reading images. Our team will arrange follow-ups in our clinic for patients who have abnormal results.

How will IU School of Medicine learners benefit from working in aprogramlike this?
The education component is an integral part of ourprogram. Our goal is to function as a leading educationalprogramfor promoting understanding of diabetic retinopathy. We hope to provide educational seminars for medical professionals, such as research seminars, continuing medical education courses for ophthalmologists, and seminars for nurses, medical students, primary care doctors and endocrinologists; and to provide educational seminars for the broader community about the importance of prevention and early treatment of diabetic complications to prevent permanent end-organ damage.  

What is diabeticretinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes in which abnormal blood sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, compromising vision and potentially causing blindness.
Poorly controlled blood sugar, large glucose fluctuations and longer duration of a diabetes diagnosis increases the risk of this disorder, saidSamanthaPolster, OD, an assistant professor of ophthalmology for IU School of Medicine, who specializes in treating the disorder.
“The tricky thing is, often patients don’t experience any symptoms of diabetic retinopathy in the beginning,”Polstersaid. “Blurry or distorted central vision can be a sign of diabetic retinopathy, alongwith new floaters or dark spots in the vision. A yearly dilated eye exam is so important to catch signs of retinopathy before it decreases vision.”
Diabetic retinopathy is managed differently depending on the patient and the severity and type of retinal changes,”Polstersaid. “Sometimes patients will have laser treatments, injections inside of the eye, surgery or a combination of those,” she said.
Controlling blood sugar and blood pressure are the best ways to prevent changes to the vessels in the retina,Polster said.

Ophthalmology developing new diabetic eye care program  (2024)


What is the new treatment for diabetic eye disease? ›

A new SRPK1 inhibitor

The new eye drop, called EXN407, is reportedly the first topical treatment for retinal vascular diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. The eye drop is a small-molecule therapy using a serine-arginine protein kinase 1 (SRPK1) inhibitor.

What's new in ophthalmology? ›

A new study finds that people with heart disease tend to have retinas marked by evidence of eye stroke. Eye exams in aging adults may catch more than just vision problems. A new study bolsters evidence that certain types of vision problems may point to an elevated risk of dementia.

How AI is transforming eye care for diabetes patients? ›

EyeArt® allows doctors to capture images of their patients' retinas using a fundus camera that photographs the back of the eye. These images are securely transmitted to the system's cloud-based platform, which looks for signs of disease or lesions and then returns a report in under 60 seconds.

Can vision be restored from diabetic retinopathy? ›

Damage caused by diabetic retinopathy is typically permanent. This condition isn't fully reversible, but some treatments may help bring some of your vision back. While treatments aren't likely to return your vision, your eye doctor can help prevent your vision from worsening.

What is the new FDA approved drug for diabetic retinopathy? ›

EYLEA® (aflibercept) 2 mg is a prescription medicine approved for the treatment of patients with Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Macular Edema following Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO), Diabetic Macular Edema (DME), Diabetic Retinopathy (DR), and Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) (0.4 mg).

Can diabetic eye neuropathy reversed? ›

There is no cure for diabetic retinopathy, but there are treatments that can help prevent, delay, or in some people, help reverse some loss of vision.

What is the new treatment for dry eyes in 2024? ›

Harrow Announces Availability of VEVYE (Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Solution) 0.1%, the First and Only Cyclosporine-Based Product Indicated for Treating Both Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease. www.businesswire.com. Published January 11, 2024.

What is the new treatment for eye disease? ›

One of the newest treatments for dry eye is an intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy device called OptiLight. It was approved by the FDA in 2021. IPL delivers gentle pulses of light to the skin around your eyes. This may help reduce inflammation and improve the stability of your tear film.

Is there a new eye treatment without surgery? ›

This medical method is called Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, and it works. Your nearsightedness and astigmatism may improve dramatically the day after your first fitting with the new Ortho-K therapy. The Ortho-K procedure is achieved in a unique way, with the wearing of specially designed contact lenses.

What is the best eye surgery for diabetics? ›

The short answer is “yes,” a person with diabetes is eligible for laser eye surgery or LASIK. It's a tried-and-tested treatment for different vision problems, even though doctors used to avoid it for diabetics in the past. Today, however, you can get LASIK even if you have diabetes.

How do you reverse diabetic eye disease? ›

No, diabetes-related retinopathy is not reversible. But you can slow down progression or stop it from getting worse through diabetes management, eye injections, laser treatment, and more.

What is the implant in the eye for diabetes? ›

If you cannot have anti-VEGF injections or they have not worked for you, you may be offered an eye implant called an intravitreal implant (brand name Ozurdex) containing a steroid medicine called dexamethasone. This is a tiny implant that's injected into your eye using a special applicator.

What pills do they give diabetic eyes? ›

Three drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of diabetic macular edema — faricimab-svoa (Vabysmo), ranibizumab (Lucentis) and aflibercept (Eylea). A fourth drug, bevacizumab (Avastin), can be used off-label for the treatment of diabetic macular edema.

How do you stop diabetic retinopathy from progressing? ›

Medicines called anti-VEGF drugs can slow down or reverse diabetic retinopathy. Other medicines, called corticosteroids, can also help. Laser treatment. To reduce swelling in your retina, eye doctors can use lasers to make the blood vessels shrink and stop leaking.

What is the best eye injection for diabetic retinopathy? ›

Eye injections

The main medicines used are called ranibizumab (Lucentis) and aflibercept (Eylea). These can help stop the problems in your eyes getting worse, and may also lead to an improvement in your vision. During treatment: the skin around your eyes will be cleaned and covered with a sheet.


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