Friday, July 18, 2008

Keratoconus

A lot has happened these past two weeks--it's funny how life throws you curve balls sometimes. Or tennis balls with a drop-spin on them (which I'm learning how to do right now). Anywho, last Friday I went in to the eye doctor because I've been having issues reading text that's far away. I had chalked it up to the typical Fedor-nearsightedness that has struck every single other one of my siblings (many around this age), and was even getting a little excited at the prospect of finally getting my own pair of thick-rimmed, square-frame nerd glasses.

I walked in right at 8, Dr. Lyman's first appointment of the day. He's always intimidated me a bit (not least because he banned me from seeing his son on multiple occasions), but he greeted me cordially and asked why a cute young lady such as myself was not hitched yet. I seem to be getting that question a lot lately. I tried not to roll my eyes as I responded that all my suitors' proposals just haven't been extravagant enough for me yet--I was holding out for the big one.

He took me to the back room where he pulled out the dreaded six-line chart that brings on self-doubt and low confidence faster than a stint in a swimsuit dressing room. He asked me to read the smallest line I could, and it was as if my eyes all of a sudden decided to give up; I knew somewhere inside that surely I could read better than the top line, but that seemed to be all I was seeing. I attempted the third line anyway, and after several blinks and a few stabs in the dark, I appeared to pass.

And then the "Which one is better?" lens-test, which always makes me think of the Brian Regan sketch (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QZpAoUC_fg for a good laugh). For about fifteen minutes, the conversation went something like this this: "Which is better--1, or 2?", "Well, they're about the same to be honest. Oh wait, maybe one was a little bit better. Yeah I think I can see the curve of that 2 a little bit better with number one. Wait, what? There's no numbers on this thing?"

I think Dr. Lyman was getting frustrated with me, since nothing seemed to be making much of a difference. Finally he pulled out a little flashlight and told me to stare at a point through the lenses, and then he did a little "ah ha" sound in his throat. But not a good ah-ha sound--a "so that's the problem" ah-ha. And then he took me to the back room and we did a topographical test on both my eyes, which both came out looking something like this (not my actual results--I swiped these off the internet):



I'm no genius, but even I could figure out just by looking at it that that probably wasn't how it was supposed to look. He then proceeded to say, "Well, I have some news today that you're not going to like." Oh boy, here we go. He went on to explain that I have an eye disease called keratoconus that makes it so my cornea bulge out into a cone (rather than being smooth like a normal eye's), which therefore distorts my vision and makes it so that glasses have little or no effect. He says that they don't know what causes it, but that it's a degenerative eye condition that will pretty much make my vision get more and more distorted as time goes by because of the thinning of my cornea. Luckily, there are good treatment options, and if worse comes to worse and my vision gets so bad I can't see much anymore, I can get a corneal transplant.

I took it all in as calmly as I could, and left the office trying not to freak out. But then I called mom and when I started explaining the situation to her and reading the handout that I was given on the disease, I started to freak out a bit. But as the day went by and I did some more research on it, most of my fears were alleviated and I started to feel really grateful that it wasn't anything worse and that it was treatable. Funny how every single day I can take something so vital to my life as I know it for granted. It's made me a lot more conscious of all the blessings that I'm given every day that I don't even think about .

I thought I'd include information about what exactly Keratoconus is (I got this from the National Keratoconus Foundation's website):

Keratoconus, often abbreviated to "KC", is a non-inflammatory eye condition in which the normally round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins causing a cone-like bulge to develop. This results in significant visual impairment. The cornea is the clear window of the eye and is responsible for refracting most of the light coming into the eye. Therefore, abnormalities of the cornea severely affect the way we see the world making simple tasks, like driving, watching TV or reading a book difficult.


In its earliest stages, keratoconus causes slight blurring and distortion of vision and increased sensitivity to glare and light. These symptoms usually first appear in the late teens and early twenties. Keratoconus may progress for 10-20 years and then slow or stabilize. Each eye may be affected differently.

Eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may be used to correct the mild nearsightedness and astigmatism caused in the early stages of keratoconus. As the disorder progresses and the cornea continues to thin and change shape, rigid gas permeable contact lenses are generally prescribed to correct vision more adequately. The contact lenses must be carefully fitted, and frequent checkups and lens changes may be needed to achieve and maintain good vision.
In severe cases, a corneal transplant may be needed due to scarring, extreme thinning or contact lens intolerance. This is a surgical procedure that replaces the keratoconus cornea with healthy donor tissue.


I have an eye appointment scheduled for next week, where I'll go in to see what I'll need in the way of contacts. Since my vision is still pretty good, soft contact lenses might be adequate to fix the problem for now. If not, I'll get fitted for the special gas permeable lenses that will help correct the distortion in my eye and help me to see better.

I feel so grateful that we caught this early, and that the medical procedures are advanced enough so that I'll be able to lead a normal life despite this disease. I'm grateful to my Heavenly Father, who with every trial blesses me with comfort and peace and countless ways to help me through it. What a marvelous blessing life is!

1 comment:

  1. i'm thankful for your definition because the shortened explanation by mouth via family members was a little vague and tended to focus on worse case scenario.
    that being said, hard contacts are not that bad. i wore them for years and never knew what i was missing with soft contacts. it would be much harder going from soft to hard, but i just started out doing RGP lenses from the get-go and was totally satisfied.
    good luck with your appointment. you're in my prayers.

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