Community Healthcare Center Offers Free Eye Screenings - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Community Healthcare Center Offers Free Eye Screenings

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Community Healthcare Center, 200 MLK Jr. Blvd., is offering free eye screenings to its adult diabetic patients. The new offering is part of a larger effort to care for the Center's robust diabetic population.

"Over 1,300 of our 17,000 patients are diabetic," Chief Operating Officer Michael Dye said.  "This new service will quickly and accurately assist our medical providers in diagnosing vision complications associated with diabetes. Because the test is free for registered Center patients, it eliminates a traditional barrier to care - an inability to pay," he said.

Medical Director and Internist Madhavi Radjulapalli said, the screening can detect a number of eye-related problems, including diabetic retinopathy. This disease is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults.

"The American Optometric Association recommends everyone with diabetes receive an annual eye examination," said Radjulapalli. "Patients with diabetic retinopathy may not experience immediate changes to their vision, but over time, the disease worsens and causes vision loss. If left untreated, it can cause blindness. Early detection and treatment are critical," she said.

Community Healthcare Center initiated the service in May. Since then, about 250 adult diabetic patients have been screened. A startling 45 percent have been identified as suffering an eye-related complication. These patients are referred to area eye doctors for further evaluation and treatment.

"The testing procedure is remarkably efficient," said Dye. "Community Healthcare Center has contracted with an organization called Vision Quest to use its Eyestar Diabetic Retinopathy Screening System. Our providers refer their diabetic patients to Center staff trained by Vision Quest on the use of the screening machine. Our staff take six pictures, three of each eye, which are uploaded to a secure system and analyzed by a licensed optometrist. Results are returned to our office within 48 hours of testing," he said.

Dye added that diabetic screening at other facilities can cost patients well in excess of $100. "Community Healthcare Center is always seeking ways to expand and improve services without burdening patients with additional financial pressures. We hope our adult diabetic patients-and diabetics throughout the region seeking an affordable health home-will take advantage of this free service. The sooner, the better," he said.