Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
Increasing Access for Ophthalmology
In October, the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System Surgery Service began using a new Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) Angiography to diagnose retinal diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Patients with diabetes are at risk for wet macular degeneration, a chronic eye disease that causes blurred vision or a blind spot in your visual field, and diabetic retinopathy, a diabetes complication that causes damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, and can eventually cause blindness.
Considered an “optical ultrasound”, the OCT Angiography assists Ophthalmologists in diagnosing these diseases by taking images of the back of the eye and blood vessels.
“If you have had diabetes for more than 10-15 years, you’re going to have some changes in the back of your eye,” said Dr. Timothy Frink, Ophthalmologist. “The (OCT Angiography) gives us a digital image of the blood flowing in the back of the eye.”
The non-invasive OCT Angiography is considered safer, more precise and more convenient for patients than the Fluorescein Angiography, which involves an injection of fluorescent dye into the blood steam.
“With the (OCT Angiography), we don’t have to stick an IV in or inject any contrast,” said Dr. Frink. “It’s much more comfortable. It’s very safe and high tech. We’re happy to have it.”
Along with greater comfort, the Surgery Service also has a new laser to treat retinal diseases. In the past, the Surgery Service has had to refer patients to the private sector for laser treatment.
“Now, we can get the Veterans in and get them treated here,” said Dr. Frink. “It will cut down on the time between diagnosis and treatment. That’s a big advantage.”