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  Chat Transcript
Open Q & A and Eye Health - Elva Parker, C.D.E. and Dr. Michele Jamison, Chair of Ophthalmology, Unity Health System, July 23, 2013

 
 Elva@Unity:
 Welcome to the Unity Diabetes Online Community! I’m Elva Parker, a certified diabetes educator at Unity Diabetes & Endocrinology Services, and I’ll be hosting today’s chat. We have a special guest tonight: Dr. Michele Jamison, Chair of Ophthalmology at Unity Health System. I’m glad all of you could join us today. We’re excited to answer all of your eye health and diabetes questions.
 Elva@Unity:
 Dr. Jamison: Thank you for joining us this evening! Could you please describe what Diabetic Retinopathy is?
 Dr. Jamison:
The retina is like the film of a camera and takes the image that we see. Diabetes can weaken the blood vessels in the eye so that the retina does not function properly.
 Elva@Unity:
What symptoms or vision changes should someone with diabetes be aware of? 
 Dr. Jamison:
Controlling blood sugars can limit damage but that damage cannot be reversed. The goal of diabetes management is to prevent damage from occurring or to prevent it from getting worse. A Hemoglobin A1c less than 6.5 limits vision damage.
Dr. Jamison:  
Symptoms include blurred or fluctuating vision, but often the disease starts before symptoms are exhibited, so it is very important to get eye exams at least once per year.
Elva@Unity: 
Are you able to determine if someone has high blood pressure with eye exams? 
lucyblue: 
 Hi Dr. Jamison, if retinopathy does develop, what are some of the treatment options?
Dr. Jamison: 
Sometimes. If it is acutely very high we can see damage and also chronic changes can be seen with years of high blood pressure.
 Elva@Unity: 
 Can eating a diet rich in antioxidants (e.g. leafy greens, legumes, nuts, coldwater fish) be beneficial for vision?
Dr. Jamison:  
Treatment options depend on the location and severity of retinopathy. Laser can be used along with new injections of anti-vascular growth factors, sometimes steroid injections. Sometimes surgery is required if blood fills the eye or the retina becomes detached.
 Dr. Jamison:  
Diet is very important for eye and body health. Green leafy vegetables, carrots, and fish are all beneficial and better digested than vitamin pills.
Jane@Unity:  
Does high blood sugar cause macular degeneration? 
 Dr. Jamison:  
High blood sugar does not cause macular degeneration, but anything that puts the blood vessels at risk like diabetes, high blood pressure, or smoking can make it worse.
 Elva@Unity: 
Eating whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, popcorn) can reduce after-meal blood sugar spikes. Is that then beneficial for protecting the retina?
Dr. Jamison:  
Anything that helps sugar levels is good for the eye. 
Jane@Unity:  
What do you think about the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin? 
 Elva@Unity: 
 If it is good for the heart, it is also great for the eyes! Therefore, it is important to get regular daily exercise, to maintain a healthy weight, not to smoke and to eat a diet rich in antioxidants, omega 3's, and whole grains.
 Dr. Jamison:  
 I agree.
 Elva@Unity: 
 Lutein & zeaxanthin are forms of antioxidants that are very healthy for you. They can be found in green leafy vegetables, as well as other foods, such as eggs.
 Jane@Unity:  
Thank you. 
 Elva@Unity: 
Other eye friendly nutrients are: Vitamin C (found in fruits and vegetables), Vitamin E (found in nuts) and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Elva@Unity:  
Thank you, Dr. Jamison!

That’s all the time we have for today. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation and hope that I was able to provide some insight for you. If we didn’t get to your question today or if you think of another question later on – feel free to jump into the conversation in the forum, or submit a question using our “Ask an expert” feature. Be sure to join us for our next chat Tuesday, August 20 at 8 p.m. with Sharon Spear, a certified diabetes educator from Unity Diabetes & Endocrinology Services. She will be holding an open Q&A session to answer all of your diabetes questions.
 
 
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