Free eye clinic tests diabetic patients

IMG_0638Twenty-two people with diabetes received free retinopathy screening at Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic on Nov. 14.

Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina in the eye caused by high blood sugar. Without treatment it can lead to blindness. “Many of our patients have diabetes but can’t afford the recommended annual screening for retinopathy,” said Mary Vance, the non-profit Clinic’s Executive Director. “This is the first time the Clinic has been able to offer this free screening.”  Vance went on to say, “I’ve wanted to add this service for Mountain Hope patients for years.  Dr. Bill Fry made the connection possible with Welch-Allyn, and we are grateful for his involvement.  We are also grateful for Dr. Van Moore, who is assisting in evaluating the reports.”

The testing was made possible through the cooperation of Welch Allyn, a manufacturer of medical diagnostic equipment. Welch Allyn provided the equipment and a technician for the screenings.

Even though the screening was on a Saturday, “a lot of people had to come from work,” said Clinic volunteer Sandi Moersdorf. However, she said the procedure was very quick, taking only a couple of minutes per person. It consisted of taking special photos of the eye, which are sent via computer to a retinal specialist. A diagnostic report is then sent back to the Clinic.

“Welch Allyn is very excited to support Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic in their efforts to preserve vision by screening for diabetic retinopathy with Welch Allyn RetinaVue Network,” said Chuck Witkowski, director of the company’s New Healthcare Delivery Solutions. “Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults, but with early detection 95 percent of vision loss cases can be prevented.”

Moersdorf, volunteer Pat Richardson and Clinic staffer Lydia Godfrey assisted at the screening. “This is brand new,” Moersdorf said, “and I’d like to see it repeated.”

“We appreciate Welch Allyn’s involvement in this venture,” Vance said. “We are anxious to do whatever we can to help our patients control their diabetes and avoid its consequences.”

Mountain Hope Clinic provides quality medical and dental care to Sevier County residents and employees who have no health insurance. For more information, visit www.mountainhopeclinic.org.