Digital Technology Improves Eye Exams for American Indian Tribe
New digital photography technology has made screening for diabetes-related vision diseases more convenient and cost effective for members of the Fort Mojave American Indian tribe in Arizona, the Arizona Republic reports. Tribe spokesperson Kelly Hills said American Indians have the highest diabetes rate in the nation at more than twice that of the general population. Those with diabetic retinopathy usually do not have visible symptoms of the disease until their condition has progressed beyond repair.
According to the Republic, some tribal members have traveled to other cities to be screened for eye diseases, but two weeks ago, the Fort Mojave American Indian Health Center began offering the new imaging technology by the Joslin Vision Network. The technology takes quick digital snapshots of a patient's eye and transmits the images to Phoenix to be analyzed for signs of bleeding, according to the Republic. The test is particularly effective for patients who do not like to have their pupils dilated, Janelle Froelich, an optometrist at the health center, said.
The technology is a part of number of improvements at the center in the past 10 years, according to the Republic. Vickie Seccombe, the health center's director, said, "Ten years ago, there was very little direct care to the patients in this community," adding, "I think the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe determined that it was time their community members and their tribal members had health care in their community" (Popovici, Arizona Republic, 10/12).