Patient Story: Living with Diabetic Retinopathy

Dr. Lott & patient

A simple exam for blurry vision helped lead patient Dennis Sanderson to a proper diabetes diagnosis and receive the treatment he needed. Since starting his journey with Florida Eye Specialists and Dr. McGregor Lott, Dennis has seen a significant impact on his sight. 

Treating diabetic retinopathy can be challenging, but thanks to Dr. Lott, Dennis can continue to pursue his passion for sailing and thrive at his IT job. Dr. Lott even contributed to the costs of some of his treatments when he was uninsured. Learn more about his unique story here. 

Blurry Vision Begins

Dennis was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL. He’s worked in IT for decades, but his great love is sailing. In his free time, he enjoys working on his 50’ sailboat and taking trips to Green Cove Springs.

But his hobbies and work became more difficult — almost impossible — when Dennis noticed that his vision was blurring and becoming less defined with contrast. At first, he believed it to be a complication with his previous LASIK eye surgery. However, Dennis learned after visiting his ophthalmologist that his vision problems were due to another reason. 

“They asked me if I’d ever been diagnosed with diabetes,” he remembered. “I had not, so they recommended that I get checked.” Dennis immediately visited his primary care physician and received his diabetes diagnosis. He has since been prescribed a new medication and a new diet plan. 

The Path to Treatment

Dennis was referred to Dr. Lott because of his specialty in treating retinal diseases. Although his diabetes was now well controlled, he needed treatment for diabetic retinopathy and edema in the back of his eye, causing swelling and other painful symptoms. 

He began a treatment called Eylea, which involves an injection into the back of the eye to treat swelling. “The eye gets numbed, but you might feel a little,” said Dennis. “I hate needles, but Dr. Lott does an outstanding job with the injections.” 

When his treatments began, Dennis was still in the process of getting medical insurance. Unbeknownst to him, Dr. Lott covered some of the cost of the treatments to ensure the best outcome for his sight. “He’s an incredible provider and a precious man,” Dennis said. “He’s an amazing human being in general.”

Eylea can have some side effects, including visual hallucinations. Last year, Dennis began to see reddish-purple neon colors. After a day, he returned to Florida Eye Specialists to be seen. “They really are a great team,” he said. “They assured me that it was harmless and that it would pass.”

Life-Changing Care

Since treatment, Dennis’s life has changed in many ways. “I see a huge improvement,” he said. “I absolutely believe Dr. Lott has saved my vision.” The blurry vision that Dennis was experiencing ultimately prevented him from working or living his life, even with a magnifier. 

“If I weren’t getting treatment, I’d probably be legally blind,” he said. “Dr. Lott has done amazing work. He changes medications when I plateau. The impact on my life has been huge. It allows me to stay employed and independent, enjoy nature or even just watch TV.”

Dennis sees Dr. Lott as a true partner in his journey to healthy vision. “Dr. Lott is amazingly talented at what he does,” said Dennis. “He’s always caring, always listening, and he really hears you. He doesn’t just dictate; it’s always a dialogue as he tells you his thoughts and shares his findings.” 

The Beauty of Vision

To Dennis, clear vision means the ability to function in life. “For me, it’s even more than just being able to see the beauty of nature or drive and do what I want to,” he said. “I’m talking about sailing around the world. It’s hard to do that if you’re blind.”

Thanks to his new treatment, Dennis can do just that. “I want to be able to enjoy life and look forward to what I might do when I retire,” he said. “Clear vision is about the enjoyment of life and the ability to function and interact with people, read faces and expressions. This is just human nature – you need to see to get around.”