Kenneth W Tobin, Jr, Ph.D., ORNL, Director for Reactors and Nuclear Systems Division

WVLT article by Lauren Davis

Oak Ridge scientists say there are 29 million people who have diabetes, but half of them don’t get eye exams to test for potential blindness from the disease.

As Local 8 News Anchor Lauren Davis reports, Oak Ridge National Lab has created a program that will detect just that.

Ken Tobin, the Director for Reactors and Nuclear Systems Division at Oak Ridge National Lab said, “If you catch blindness early, you can save sight in your eyes for a longer period of time than if you wait for the symptoms.”

It’s called diabetic retinopathy which causes diabetic patients to lose their sight. Ken Tobin said, “By detecting it early, you can make corrections early and can save sight years. It also saves money and does a lot of good things.”

Thanks to the Hubble Telemedical, created here in East Tennessee at ORNL, your blindness could be prevented. The cameras are in doctor’s offices around the nation. The hope is to make them more accessible.

Edward Chaum, M.D., Ph.D., Plough Foundation Professor of Ophthalmology, Professor Pediatrics, Professor Anatomy and Neurobiology, Professor Biomedical Engineering

Tobin said, “I think long term, you walk into Walmart and just like an arm cuff for blood pressure screening there will be a retinal exam to detect blindness.”

It helps diabetes patients, but it can also help with seniors who are susceptible to macular degeneration. Tobin said, “It’s a very successful program. It only took 7 years to go from an idea from one field of use into the medical environment and it’s helping a lot of people today. That’s the most exciting part of the whole thing.”

Dr. Ken Tobin with ORNL partnered with [UTRF inventor] Dr. Edward Chaum with University of Tennessee Health Science Center to create the program.

related articles:

UT, ORNL See Future of Eye Disease Diagnosis

Welch Allyn Acquires UTRF Startup Hubble Telemedical to Combat Diabetic Retinopathy