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From Oshawa, Ontario, Canada:

I am trying to help a 17-year old girl, who is my dad's "dialysis companion" in Poland (she and my dad are both on dialysis). This girl was first diagnosed with diabetes when she was six years of age. As a result of this illness, she has completely lost her vision in both eyes. Is there any way, maybe a transplant, that she could regain her vision? If yes, where can this be done?


The most important consideration is "diagnosis." Diabetes can cause vision loss in a number of ways, some of which may be amenable to treatment and many of which are not. By far, the most common cause of complete vision loss in a young diabetic patient is "diabetic retinopathy, " which can detach the eye's light sensitive retina leading to total blindness. This disease is the leading cause of blindness in the Western World for people under age 70. Retinal transplants are not yet possible, unfortunately, and eye transplants are pure science fiction at this point.

I believe we should never say never when it comes to blindness and possible remedies. For the time being, at least, the most practical place to begin is by maximizing any visual potential that this young woman may still have by consulting a specialist in low vision. Even if she is totally blind, there is much that can be done to assist her (mobility assistance, occupational therapy, specialized devices for the activities of daily living). I would highly recommend contacting people at the National Federation for the Blind (NFB), an organization with special emphasis on diabetes related blindness. They may have contacts with organizations in Europe that could be of assistance.


Original posting 19 Apr 2004
Posted to Complications


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