Ricardo Hernandez has lived with diabetes for more than seven years. During that time, the 43-year-old National City resident has seen deterioration in his eyesight as a result of the disease. Deeply concerned that he would permanently lose his vision, he learned about a free retinal screening program offered at a nearby community clinic, which was supported by Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute.
When ophthalmologist Paul Tornambe, MD, and George Hayes, manager of the Scripps Mobile Medical Unit, met Ricardo, they recognized the urgency of his situation. Ricardo had severe retinopathy and clinically significant macular edema, which if left untreated, would lead to blindness.
“Ricardo had a massive hemorrhage in his right eye and his left eye was also bleeding,” says Dr. Tornambe. "We immediately began care; first, with injections of a medication to shrink the blood vessels in the eyes, and then with laser treatments in an effort to stop the bleeding.”
Dr. Tornambe, a great champion for the prevention and early treatment of diabetic retinopathy, has been volunteering at the weekly clinic for five years. Retinal photographs of patients are taken aboard the Scripps mobile medical unit and then Dr. Tornambe is able to interpret the screenings and recommend any follow-up care. More than 100 patients, many suffering from vision complications as a result of their diabetes, receive retinal screenings each month.