New effort to fight diabetes in Sonoma County


Sonoma County medical providers are taking aggressive steps to deal with the high rate of patients with diabetes admitted to local hospitals, a trend that is said to be driving up hospital costs.

In Sonoma County, patients with diabetes account for almost 26 percent of all local hospital admissions, according to a recent UCLA analysis of 2011 hospital patient discharge data. That’s a total of 7,459 hospital admissions.

The added cost of hospital care is estimated at $16.4 million, according to the study, which was conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research with support from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

“We are very concerned about the epidemic of diabetes and the toll that it takes on individuals and the system that cares for them,” said Karen Holbrook, the county’s deputy public health officer.

Holbrook said diabetic patients who are admitted to local hospitals pose more medical complications than those who are not diabetic and often require more tests and treatments. Severe diabetes often results in serious medical conditions such as liver disease and kidney failure, she said.

According to the UCLA study, 31 percent of the state’s hospitalized patients 35 years or older, the age group that accounts for most hospitalizations, had diabetes. The study estimated that the added cost to hospitals in California was $1.6 billion. Hospital stays for diabetic patients in the state cost an average of $2,200 more than for non-diabetic patients, according to the study.

The study’s authors pointed out that 75 percent of this care is covered by Medicare and Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. Medi-Cal alone pays $254 million in added costs for diabetic patients.

December 20, 2011 ~ Dr. Lee Yasgur, Ophthalmologist on Diabetes Eye Disease

Dr. Lee Yasgur

Lee Yasgur was born in South Philadelphia, raised in West Oak Lane and East Oak Lane, and graduated from Central High School, class 224.  He  served four tours of duty to Viet Nam with the US Navy amphibious forces, then resumed his education in 1970 at Temple University. Granted his BA Cum Laude, he entered Hahnemann Medical College, spent a year of Internship at Thomas Jefferson Hospital, then entered General Practice in Northeast Philadelphia.  He shortly entered the Ophthalmology Residency at Hahnemann University Hospital.  His Ophthalmic Basic Science curriculum was completed at Stanford University, and his clinical training continued at Hahnemann. With the early goal of helping patients live enhanced lives without the fear of blindness, he set up the first eye diagnostic and laser treatment center in South Jersey, incorporating the services of many ophthalmologists from around the region.  This provided a centralized service for equipment rarely found in outlying communities in1983, such as Argon and Yag lasers, fundus photography with fluorescein angiography, A and B scan ultrasonography.

Personal experiences in combat convinced the veteran to go to college and to enter medical school.  Early exposure to new technology convinced him that ophthalmology had much to offer to every aging member of the community.

Dr. Yasgur lives in South Jersey with his wife Carolyn.  They have raised three children. Ryan is still pursuing advanced education.  Jon lives with wife Jenna and their daughter,  Clementine, in NYC.  Aviva lives with husband John in Kentucky.

Dr. Yasgur was among the first 300 surgeons in the US, in 1988,  to introduce patients to ‘foldable’ intraocular lenses, which allowed offering cataract surgery with no stitching. This technology keeps improving, and allows over two million cataract patients each year in the US to recover clear vision.

Patients with wet macular degeneration used to go blind, and even with the laser treatments of the past, the blindness was held back by only several months.  With the new medication treatments, almost no eyes go blind from this disease, although the treatment requires many visits each year for two years or even longer.  Dr Yasgur has been offering these treatments since 2006.

The blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy is not relegated to the past.  It still happens.  But with the modern laser  and medication treatments, it is now rare to see an eye go blind from diabetic retinopathy or maculopathy.  Dr Yasgur attributes that mostly to the wonderful medical care today’s diabetics receive.  Ever since Hemoglobin A1C has been routinely measured, patients whose A1C is kept below 7.2  [which is still a high number] have much less retinal damage from diabetes .  The older generation eye examination tools and cameras for photography could not capture with high reliability the presence of the early stages of diabetic retinopathy.  Now, in the digital age of photography, high megapixel cameras are in use to photograph the inside of the eye, and photographic filters are utilized within the digital equipment, to enhance the presence of microscopic blood vessel leaks. With this early information from the eye doctor, the patient and the family doctor can be made aware the eye is suffering damage, and the treatment goals may need to be adjusted for more rigid compliance for blood sugar, blood pressure, renal function, etc.

For patients with glaucoma, the treatments of the past including many irritating eyedrops , most with uncomfortable or even dangerous side effects.  If those medications failed, the option for treatment was having a hole cut in the eye with a thin tissue protection layer.  25% had nasty complications. and 50% of those operations failed by 5 years.  Recently, newer lasers have made it possible to minimize the use of the medication , these lasers offer repeatable sessions when needed.  They are not painful, for over 95%.  In the event the new laser treatments fail, the new surgical procedures involve only a pin-hole where the old procedures involved a large hole: thus the eyes do not suffer the same incidence of complications.  Newer medications are also available with less irritation and burning and blurring.

Listen to Diabetes Living Today®

December 20, 2011 ~ Dr. Lee Yasgur, Ophthalmologist on Diabetes Eye Disease


10-Year Study Demonstrates IRIDEX MicroPulse(TM) Laser Therapy Safe, Effective for Patients with Diabetic Macular Edema

Results show innovative tissue-sparing laser therapy creates durable therapeutic effect without the damage caused by traditional laser techniques



MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Dec. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — IRIDEX Corporation /quotes/zigman/59524/quotes/nls/irix IRIX +1.16% today announced that data from a clinical study(1) compiled over 10 years demonstrates the safety and efficacy of MicroPulse laser therapy for treating diabetic macular edema (DME) without the retina tissue damage associated with conventional laser therapy. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DME, a swelling of retinal tissue, is the leading cause of new cases of blindness amongst adults aged 20-74 in the US.(2)

The study, which was released via early publication, was led by Jeffrey K. Luttrull, MD, an ophthalmologist and retinal surgeon with the Ventura County Retina Vitreous Medical Group in California. A total of 252 eyes with macular edema (212 eyes due to diabetic retinopathy, 40 eyes due to branch retinal vein occlusion) were followed. Of these, 181 patients met study inclusion criteria, received subvisible MicroPulse laser treatment, and were followed for up to 10 years.

Dr. Luttrull stated, “MicroPulse laser therapy is an ideal first-line treatment for retinal vascular macular edema because of its unique safety profile. Using specific laser parameters discussed in our recent study, MicroPulse laser treatment can be performed which I believe is both absolutely harmless and at least as effective as conventional thermal retinal photocoagulation. Because of its unique ability to produce the desired therapeutic effect without any measurable inflammation or damage to functional retinal tissue, treatment can be initiated earlier, possibly improving long-term outcomes.”

Diabetes affects 25.8 million people, or 8.3% of the US population. In 2005-2008, 4.2 million people, or 28.5% of the US population, with diabetes aged 40 years or older had diabetic retinopathy, and of these, 655,000 had advanced diabetic retinopathy.(2)

“The 10-year study is an excellent validation of our work toward creating a new durable therapy for eye conditions associated with diabetes,” said Dominik Beck, PhD., IRIDEX President and CEO. “Our goal is to create a paradigm shift in the way physicians treat retinal diseases. Considering the durable clinical benefits, the safety of the procedure and the economic benefits to the healthcare system, leading physicians are beginning to conclude that MicroPulse can be used earlier in the disease progression and can be, at least, incorporated into any treatment regimen – either alone or in conjunction with drug therapy.”

(1) Luttrull JK, Sramek C, Palanker D, Spink CJ, Musch DC. Long-term safety, high-resolution imaging, and tissue temperature modeling of subvisible diode micropulse photocoagulation for retinovascular macular edema. Retina 2011; Publish Ahead of Print:10.1097/IAE.0b013e3182206f6c

(2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011

About MicroPulse Technology

MicroPulse is a tissue-sparing laser therapy that works by electronically “chopping” the laser emission into trains of microsecond pulses. This enhances the physician’s ability to more precisely control the laser effects on target tissues, offering the potential for ocular treatment with less collateral effects than conventional laser treatments.


IRIDEX Corporation was founded in 1989 and is a worldwide leader in developing, manufacturing, and marketing innovative and versatile laser-based medical systems and delivery devices. We provide solutions for multiple specialties, including ophthalmology, dermatology and otolaryngology. We maintain a deep commitment to the success of our customers, with comprehensive technical, clinical, and service support programs. IRIDEX is dedicated to a standard of excellence, offering superior technology for superior results. IRIDEX products are sold in the United States through a direct sales force and internationally through a combination of a direct sales force and a network of approximately 100 independent distributors into 107 countries. For further information, visit the Company’s website at

Safe Harbor Statement

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Act of 1934, as amended, relating to the Company’s strategic plans with respect to MicroPulse technology and new treatments relating thereto. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results may differ materially from those described in these forward-looking statements as a result of a number of factors. Please see a detailed description of these and other risks contained in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended January 1, 2011 and our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarters ended April 2, 2011, July 2, 2011 and October 1, 2011, each of which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Forward-looking statements contained in this announcement are made as of this date and will not be updated.


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