Providence Hospital Announces Advances in Diabetic Eye Disease Detection and Treatment

September 4, 2014 8:59 pm Published by

September 4, 2014 Mobile, Alabama—Providence Hospital today announced two important developments in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy: IRIS screening technology and small incision retinal surgery.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of legal blindness among working age adults in the United States. Most often, irreversible vision loss occurs because the patients do not seek medical attention for the eye complications of diabetes until they have advanced disease and significant vision loss. Repairing advanced complications and rehabilitating vision are much more costly and invasive than treating early disease and stabilizing vision.

IRIS screening facilitates the detection of diabetic eye disease. The technology is safe, noninvasive and very effective to determine if diabetic eye complications exist and if these complications require treatment. The retinal imaging takes two to three minutes to complete, does not require eye drops, and is performed in the doctor’s office at Mobile Diagnostic Center. IRIS’s innovative technology permits both noninvasive testing and rapid results within five to ten minutes of the initial reading using sophisticated artificial intelligence. A confirmatory report is electronically forwarded to the referring physician within 24 hours. According to retinal specialist and founder of IRIS, Dr. Sunil Gupta, “IRIS represents groundbreaking technology that will allow patients to have diabetic eye disease detected early and accurately to prevent significant vision loss.”

Small incision retinal surgery improves the hospital’s ability to treat severe diabetic retinopathy. The most aggressive form of diabetic retinopathy, proliferative, can result in bleeding into the eye, vitreous hemorrhage, and ultimately retinal detachment. The advent of small incision retinal surgery has allowed retinal specialists to treat these severe complications less invasively. Just five to ten years ago, the standard of care required incisions and stitching to access the sensitive structures in the back of the eye. Then, a no stitch procedure was developed, where the openings made to access the back of the eye were significantly smaller, just less than 1 millimeter. Similar to most surgeries, improved outcomes and faster recovery are associated with decreased incision size.

Now, Providence Hospital is one of the first centers in the country to offer 27 gauge retinal surgery with the Constellation retinal machine. The openings made into the eye with this new technology are only 0.4 mm, about half the thickness of a credit card, which permits a more precise and minimally invasive solution to even the most complex and severe diabetic eye complications. Initial experience with this new surgical platform has been encouraging, according to Dr. Alan Franklin, a surgeon at Retina Specialty Institute. “This technology represents an important advance in our ability to treat many difficult retinal surgical problems with minimal trauma to the eye to achieve better results and faster recovery,” Dr. Franklin said.

Patient experience has been similarly positive, James Byrd, who had retinal surgery at Providence with this new instrumentation, said “The surgery was painless, and my vision improved significantly. I am quite pleased with the results.”

Clark Christianson, president and CEO of Providence Health System, said “Both the IRIS screening technology and micro-incision surgery represent important advances in the treatment of a common blinding disease, and demonstrate the significant commitment that Providence Hospital and the doctors at Retina Specialty Institute have made to improving the health of our diabetic patients.”


About Providence Hospital
Providence Hospital, a 349-bed facility, cares for more than 15,000 inpatients and 150,000 outpatients each year. Specialized services offered at Providence include cancer care, open-heart surgery, obstetrics, ophthalmic surgery, orthopedics, neurosciences, a freestanding rehabilitation and wellness center and an Outpatient Center with dedicated outpatient diagnostic services and surgical suites. Providence Health System, the parent corporation of Providence Hospital, is a member of Ascension Health, the nation’s largest non-profit and largest Catholic health system.

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Michael D. King
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