Ophthalmologist Highlights Importance of Eye Screenings for Diabetics

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EDINBURG – Diabetes often affects aspects of your health. One of the side-effects that come with the disease impacts your vision.

A new center that opened in Edinburg this year hopes to tackle that.

An ophthalmologist at the center says a majority of his patients developed complications with their eyes due to diabetes.

Three years ago, Maria Cantu started changing her habits – eating better and working out. The changes came after a life-altering diagnosis.

“Years ago, we didn’t know much. We weren’t as informed on things such as cholesterol and many diseases. You didn’t know much about illnesses such as diabetes,” said Cantu.

Cantu was diagnosed with diabetes. She’s learned to watch what she eats, otherwise, it takes a toll on her health.

“You feel bad when you don’t maintain a balanced diet,” she said.

Cantu also suffers from complications with her eyes due to diabetes.

Dr. Jorge Antonio Montes is used to seeing patients like Cantu. He’s the first ophthalmologist with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Eye Institute.

He works at a center that opened its doors earlier this year. Services focus on diagnosis and treatment of a range of eye illnesses.

“Talking specifically about diabetes, I think it’s really important,” said Dr. Montes. “It tends to be one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, so, unfortunately, it doesn't have a lot of symptoms in the beginning. So if you don't catch it early on, which you know there's no way to catch it early on other than looking in, so that ties into the importance of the eye screening.”

Dr. Montes explains diabetes impacts the entire body, especially the extremities; eyes included.

“Those things that are furthest away from the heart, the brain and the eye and also the feet, get the least circulation so that gets the least oxygen and that's why we see a lot of feet problems. At the other end of the spectrum is the eyes and so we tend to see a lot of low blood flow to the eyes,” he said.

Since symptoms of damage to the eye can go unnoticed, Dr. Montes emphasizes early screening. He says it does make a difference in tackling the disease.

“It’s nice to catch it before it becomes a big problem where scarring tends to take place. When scarring is involved, it's really difficult to reverse those types of changes. You may not have a symptom of scarring until it's too late,” the doctor said.

Cantu received treatment of her vision when she was first diagnosed with the illness but still suffers from some minor complications.

Diabetics should schedule eye screenings at least once a year. Stage level will ultimately dictate how frequent your visits should be.

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