ANGELA KEEN: The disease is the leading cause of blindness in America and in Hawaii, we have one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the country. Here to tell us more about it, is our good friend, Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Dr. Michael Bennett.
ANGELA KEEN: Good to see you this morning.
MICHAEL D. BENNETT, M.D.: Good Morning.
ANGELA KEEN: So what's the connection with the eyes and diabetes?
MICHAEL D. BENNETT, M.D.: Diabetes effects the entire body and mainly, when the sugars fluctuates, it actually damages the small blood vessels and when it damages the blood vessels, it effects your vision and the rest of your body.
ANGELA KEEN: And this is irreversible damage?
MICHAEL D. BENNETT, M.D.: If you catch it early enough you can reverse a vast majority of the small changes that are taking place. If you wait too long, the damages can be permanent and lead to significant blindness.
ANGELA KEEN: I've heard of people with diabetes who've lost their eyesight, do you actally see this in your office?
MICHAEL D. BENNETT, M.D.: Absolutely, daily in our practice. Diabetes in Hawaii is probably two-full greater than it is in the rest of the country. With the Asian Americans and the Native Hawaiians, the incident is just running rampant through our society currently.
ANGELA KEEN: How does one get an early diagnosis and get it under control and save their eyesight?
MICHAEL D. BENNETT, M.D.: Most importantly, the problem with diabetes is that, it does not cause any pain or discomfort so patients will come in with blurry vision. Their glasses will no longer work for them, they'll start to have all of the other symptons and literally, by looking in their eyes, you can see all the small blood vessels that are effected from the diabetes. It's not too uncommon that the eye physicans make the diagnosis.
ANGELA KEEN: What do you see when you're looking in there? Is there a tell-tale sign that you can see when you're looking through the scope?
MICHAEL D. BENNETT, M.D.: When you're looking at the little blood vessels you can see little red blotches where the blood vessles are broken and they're leaking and when they leak, it causes the retina and the rest of the vision to swell, and so those are the areas you target with your treatments when you try to prevent and reverse the damages.
ANGELA KEEN: High glucose levles can be to blame for the inflammation and the problems that occur with that so people keep their sugar under control, is that key also?