How an in-office eye screening saved Stella's sight

Stella N., who has been an ARC patient since 2002, was diagnosed with diabetes in the 1980's. In 2015, when she saw her regular ARC physician, Dr. Sharon Liu, Stella expected to be referred to an ophthalmologist for an eye screening but she got a surprise. The screening was done at the ARC office.

"In the past I had to go elsewhere for eye screenings," Stella says. "This was much easier."

Stella's screening showed that she had proliferative diabetic retinopathy ("PDR"), a progressive eye disease that is a leading cause of adult blindness in the United States. Many diabetic patients eventually develop diabetic retinopathy even when their blood sugar levels are under control.

Stella is one of 1,000 ARC patients with diabetes who received an in-office eye screening between August and December of 2015. The screening results came back "abnormal" in 38% of patients, who, like Stella, were then referred to a specialist for treatment.

Stella was referred to Austin Retina Associates where she sees Dr. James W. Dooner. Stella's treatment includes medication that is injected into the whites of her eyes. The injections, which are relatively painless, stabilize the condition of the eyes. In some cases, the injections can also improve a patient's vision.

Stella says that before she began receiving treatments, her vision had been "decreasing tremendously." She is thrilled with the results of the injections. "I feel like I see 20/20 again," she says.

Stella, who is 64 years old and retired, adds that her vision is very important, as she is the primary caregiver to her 53-year old brother, who has been disabled since birth. "My parents left me as his caregiver in their will," she explains. "So, I try to focus on him."

Stella knows that to be a good caregiver, she must also take care of herself. At one time she weighed 247 pounds, however, she is proud that for many years she has maintained her weight at 154. She also makes sure to take her medication.

Stella is grateful to be a patient at ARC. "I never have to wait to get an appointment. And once I am there, the doctor calls me in right away," she says. There have also been times when Stella asked to be seen at the last minute. "They always accommodate me promptly," she says.

Stella sees Dr. Liu on a regular basis and appreciates that Dr. Liu takes time to answer her questions and to address her concerns. "She's young, but she really understands me as a woman," Stella says. "She knows what women go through."

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