Sexually Transmitted Disease And Infection: What’s New

Dr. Reynolds discusses the new trends in STDs and STIs, as well as diversity in eye care.

Cara Moore: Hi everyone. Thanks for watching Optometry TV. I’m Cara Moore joined now by Dr. Sherrol Reynolds. Thanks so much for being here.

Dr. Sherrol Reynolds: Thank you so much for having me.

Cara Moore: Okay, so we’re talking about a few different things. Let’s start off with STDs and STIs and really what’s, what’s new right now?

Dr. Sherrol Reynolds: So what’s new with sexually transmitted disease and infection is that it’s at an all time high in the United States. The rate of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, I mean are just disproportionately beyond what it was a couple years ago. And one of the key facts is that you’re seeing it more in our younger demographics our 15 to 24 years old, year old patients. And also too, one of the things that came out just recently, just recently published October 9th, 2019 so this is a new stat or data from the CDC, is that there are more deaths in infants from syphilis than ever before, just exponentially high. So as eye care practitioners, it’s important for us, we’re on the forefront of seeing these patients that come in with a red eye complaints, and a lot of these younger kids may be coming in with red eye complaints and we think it’s contact lens related, but we have to keep on our index of suspicion, sexually transmitted diseases. And especially if you treat the patients and they’re not getting any better, to work up these patients for syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, also too, HIV is also increasing. One of the frightening facts is that one in eight individuals who have HIV are unaware that they have it. So again, it’s important if we see any ocular signs, maybe an isolated cotton wool spot, which is an area of ischemia on the retina, that we get these patients tested for HIV and other STDs. And remember, not one disease comes to the party by itself. I heard someone say that there’s multiple of them. And so if you’re testing for sexually transmitted disease, you may want to test first chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV at the same time as well as gonorrhea.

Cara Moore: So that’s something that, practitioners really have to keep in mind now, with numbers at an all time high.

Dr. Sherrol Reynolds: Yes.

Cara Moore: What about ocular tumors? Why is it so important for optometrists to really be at the forefront?

Dr. Sherrol Reynolds: Again, we are at the forefront. We see these patients, they would come in probably with benign eye lesions, that again, they have gone to multiple doctors to have evaluated such as a lesion on the conjunctiva, which could be just n benign lesion, but it can also be indicative of lymphoma or leukemia. And we need to be aware, an optometrist knows that cancers can affect the eyelids from front to back. So it’s from the front of the eye, the eyelids, the conjunctiva, to the bag, the vitreous, and the retina, to the optic nerve. And so more importantly, not only diagnosing that, those conditions, we can save the person’s life. So I think the first thing is to save the person’s life, get them treated, and then save their vision, so.

Cara Moore: And I know you also wanted to talk a little bit about diversity in the industry. And you’re doing a lot of work with the NOA, what is the NOA?

Dr. Sherrol Reynolds: Thank you so much for asking. So the National Optometric Association was formed in 1969 as an organization of minority Optometrists. And one of the things that’s important in eye care is diversity in eye care, and our patient demographics are very diverse and so it’s important for optometry. And we’re doing a great job with having a diverse doctor population. So the NOA, our mission is advancing the visual health, excuse me, of minority population. So we are doing our best to increase diversity, working to increase diversity within the schools, colleges of optometry and within the profession.

Cara Moore: And so that outreach is really important.

Dr. Sherrol Reynolds: That outreach is very important. Disproportionately minority patients are impacted from eye diseases such as diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, which is the leading cause of blindness in our younger adults, again, glaucoma another disease that is disproportionately by minorities, impact minorities. And other systemic disease, high blood pressure, which is at an all time high as well. I mean, half of the population have high blood pressure or are prehypertensive or elevated blood pressure now, same thing with diabetes. Half of the US population has diabetes and/or prediabetes. And so a disproportionate number of those are minority individuals. So increasing awareness about the importance of a comprehensive eye exam for early detection, can definitely improve their vision in the long run, and not only improve their vision, but save their lives as well.

Cara Moore: And that’s what it’s all about.

Dr. Sherrol Reynolds: And that’s what it’s all about. Thank you so much for having me.

Cara Moore: Thank you for being here, Dr. Reynolds. I really appreciate it, and thank you all for watching Optometry TV.

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