Diabetes clinic streamlines treatment

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Most people already know that diabetes forces people to adjust their eating habits. But how many know that on top of the high blood pressure and possible symptoms of increased hunger and thirst, diabetes can also lead to blindness?

According to the America Optometric Association, “diabetes is the number one cause of acquired blindness.” People at risk for diabetes should look at eye exams as the first line of detection. Diabetic retinopathy, a condition dealing with blood vessels in the eye, which is a “potentially blinding complication,” is present in nearly all cases of diabetics and can also be one of the first signs.

Pacific University has developed a new diabetic clinic at the Health Professions Campus in Hillsboro, Ore. The clinic received funding from both the Reagents Foundation in the form of a grant of $94,000 and the Standard Foundation with another grant of $10,000.

The Dean of Optometry Jennifer Smythe, has a particular her emotional attachment to the project because her 21-year-old daughter has had diabetes since age 9.

Smythe discussed how diabetes is a “family disease” because, for example, “if the mom has diabetes then she is going to cook” in the manner befitting her condition. In the same sense, parents with diabetic children must adjust the family menus to accommodate the child’s needs.

Diabetes patients can suffer from different eye problems caused by their condition. Some issues include diabetic retinopathy and cataracts. Diabetic retinopathy is a condition of the tiny blood vessels in the eye either being blocked or bleeding in the back of the eye. This can cause retinal problems and vision loss. A cataract is a partial or full clouding of the lens, resulting in vision issues.

The new diabetes clinic is an interprofessional project. It is a facility focusing on providing personal, affordable care to Latinos and other underserved populations with diabetes. Students and faculty from all fields will be able to contribute and learn in the new clinic. They will be able to discuss the symptoms and findings of each case and learn from the effects diabetes has on other health issues, such as optical, dental, vascular, neural and mental.

The advantages of Pacific’s diabetes clinic will be to provide all needed care in one place. According to Smythe, many diabetes patients have to see multiple doctors from different fields. The problem with this is the doctors tend not to communicate with each other and therefore do not find the best treatments for the patients. The doctors can also end up prescribing treatment for one condition that affects a treatment of another condition prescribed by one of the other physicians without knowing it. With all of the different issues being treated under the same roof by a cohesive group of professionals, patients will be receiving the best care possible.


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