Diabetic Retinopathy is a disease of the retina (a part of the eye that enables sight) due to Diabetes; after 10 years of having been diagnosed with Diabetes, 80% of patients will develop the condition. Without proper screening and prevention, Diabetic Retinopathy can lead to blindness.
Prior to the implementation of the WBPCN Teleophthalmology Program, patients with Diabetes had to travel to Edmonton in order to have preventive screening of their retinas conducted by an Ophthalmologist (a physician that specializes in diseases of the eyes). That screening is now offered here in Fort McMurray at the WBPCN, available to all diabetic patients who have been referred to the program by their family physician.
Exams are offered every friday, and include a retinopathy eye exam (fundus photography, equipment pictured above), visual acuity check, and an eye pressure test for glaucoma. Once photographs of the retina have been taken, they are transmitted securely to a team of Ophthalmologists at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton who then return the results of their examination to the WBPCN within 24 hours. Patients are then informed that they must book a follow-up appointment with their family physicians in order to discuss their results.