TEAM DIABETES: The Ophthalmologist - Diabetes WA
 In Healthy Hints and Hacks

What service/s does an Ophthalmologist provide?

An ophthalmologist is a doctor that specialises in the medical and surgical care of eyes. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor who has completed university and at least eight years of additional medical training, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery.

How do you help people with diabetes? 

Diabetes can affect the eye and if there are changes that are severe, having laser treatment or eye injections can really help prevent vision loss and improve eyesight. If cataracts cause blurring of vision earlier due to diabetes, then this surgery can also help. Lions Outback Vision provides specialist eye-care services to remote areas of WA. As part of the team for eye care, I hope to be available for the patients who need specialist input. The optometrists can screen for diabetic eye disease changes and the Aboriginal health workers can also take pictures to detect changes and then refer to me and colleagues, when needed, for surgery or specialist care.

Why is an Ophthalmologist an important part of ‘Team Diabetes’?

We play an important role in preventing the complications of late-stage eye disease caused by diabetes. High blood glucose levels can damage your eyes over time, but the problems are preventable if you have your eyes checked or screened regularly. Cataracts and glaucoma can also be associated with diabetes. There are certain parts of eye care that need an eye specialist. This is where an ophthalmologist comes in. Glasses may help the vision and assist in reading, but the things going on at the back of the eye need attention with a check at least every year.

Do you have a story or anecdote from a patient with diabetes that you could share about how your services (perhaps, particularly through your work with indigenous communities) has impacted their life? Or conversely the damage of not taking care of their eyes may have affected a patient?

Some patients have a condition that causes swelling at the back of the eye, which can be treated very effectively with a needle up to eight times a year. This sounds terrible, but actually the procedure is painless and makes a big difference. I have one patient who is the ‘nomad of the year’ so I have given up tracking him down from Meeka, to Hedland and Halls Creek. He just rings me once a month without fail and tells me where he is, so he can get his injection to keep driving! Getting to all the remote spots around our big state is a real challenge but at Lions Outback Vision we do our best to be as close to home as possible for people.






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