Eye implant helps patients with diabetes from going blind

Photo Credit: KLFY

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – A diabetes patient is saving his vision by receiving treatment for a rare medical condition. Macular Edema is a condition that only affects 10 percent of the 29 million Americans with diabetes. If left untreated, it can cause people to go blind.

70 year old Ronald Bertand has been struggling with diabetes for the majority of his life.

“46 years. It’s a long time, but I’m a fighter not a quitter,” Bertrand said.

His diabetes now affecting his vision. Ophthalmologist Dr. Jay Culotta diagnosed Bertrand with Macular Edema about five years ago. It’s a condition where high blood sugar causes blood vessels in the eyes to leak, resulting in the retina to swell and fluid to build up.

“Some patients have edema and it doesn’t affect their vision very much and some it affects extremely, to the point where they’re legally blind,” Dr. Culotta said.

“You can’t see if something is blocking your retina and when he asks me to take the shot I said let’s give it a try,” Bertrand said.

So Bertrand started getting injections in the eye every three months. But now doctors have a longer term solution.

To help alleviate some of that fluid doctors use a treatment called Iluvien. Doctors actually inject a capsule into the eye, no bigger than the tip of the needle to get patients some relief.

“It’s a time release capsule basically into generates overtime and releases the medication,” Dr. Culotta said.

The capsule stays in the eye for three years, providing continuous relief. Bertrand, who already lost his left eye to glaucoma, says this medication is crucial for him.

“That was only way I could continue seeing. And if it wouldn’t be for that I would be blind,” Bertrand said.

“It doesn’t work for everyone and sometimes it does have to be supplemented with other medications but for the most part most patients seem to respond very well and are very happy,” Dr. Culotta said.

Bertrand said he’s thankful to live a normal life again.

“I can see and I can read. that makes me happy,” Bertrand said.

Dr. Culotta said the injections are expensive, costing 8 thousand dollars each time. He said insurance does cover the injections for patients with diabetes.

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