New Vision Care Program Benefits Diabetes Patients
SANTA BARBARA — Santa Barbara Public Health patients will be seeing a little bit better with free eye exams thanks to a new partnership with SEE International.
The teamwork will try to prevent blindness due to diabetes.
“Almost anyone with diabetes will eventually develop what’s called diabetic retinopathy,” said Tim Durnin of SEE International “If it’s not treated it will lead to blindness.”
“In our county clinics alone we have almost 3,00 people with diabetes,” explained Dr. Takashi Michael Wada, Director of Santa Barbara County Public Health.
Without health insurance, an opthomology appointment can cost a few hundred dollars per visit. Due to the high cost, many people skip out on getting their eyes looked at.
“And that’s okay for most people in their adult years to not get an eye exam every year but the think that’s most important but the think that this program is focusing on is an annual eye exam with everyone with diabetes,” said Dr. Douglas Jacobson of SEE International.
Public Health and the Surgical Eye Expeditions, also known as SEE International, teamed up to create the Santa Barbara Vision Care Diabetes Examination Program.
“Anytime you can provide medical care to folks it’s a benefit and if we can prevent blindness there’s nothing more incredible than doing that,” said Supervisor Janet Wolf, County of Santa Barbara.
SEE International is funding the program for a year that will provide an additional four hours of service per week for county patients. They are also donating a $24,000 examination camera to the County Public Health Department.
“I think we’re going to be ahead of the curve to what’s coming down the pike relative to diabetes,” said Durnin.
Starting on August 17, patients will be treated by the new vision care program.