*One of our amazing patients asked to share his vision journey- he has a cornea disease called Keratoconus. This is a progressive condition that causes the cornea (front layer of the eye) to become very thin and bulge outward. Because of the irregular shape, people with keratoconus typically cannot see well with glasses and are limited to hard (gas permeable) lenses instead. Below are some photos of scleral GP lenses on his eyes. Such an interesting story! Thanks for sharing, Jon!*
Hello. My name is Jon. I am 59 years old and have been living with keratoconus for 28+ years.
I had very good vision up to age 28, when I began wearing glasses at night and for reading due to an astigmatism in both eyes. By the time I was diagnosed with keratoconus at the age of 31, the glasses were no longer effective in providing adequate vision correction. To correct my vision due to keratoconus, I began wearing Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses, which I wore for the next 22 years. During the early years, the gas permeable lenses were very effective in correcting my vision. However, as the disease progressed, I encountered several challenges, particularly in my left eye. First, it became increasingly difficult to make a lens that would adequately correct my vision. Second, it was very difficult to get a lens to fit on my cornea. This is the nature of keratoconus, in that it is characterized by the bulging of a normally round cornea. My lens would often pop out, even while I was driving, not exactly safe. My left eye became worse and in December of 2008, at the age of 48, I had a corneal transplant in my left eye. The surgery was a success and my doctor was again able to adequately correct the vision in both eyes with RGP lenses.
LIFE CHANGING MOMENT
After the corneal transplant, my overall vision was improved. I still had challenges with the lenses staying in place and it seemed like I had to take them out and re-insert them constantly. Dust was a constant irritation with the RGP lenses. Although the vision was good, I always had higher expectations in having better vision. All considered, however, I figured it is what it is and overall, I was very fortunate.
Then, in December of 2013, I met a new doctor at Family Vision Solutions, Dr. Randy Charrier, who introduced me to the scleral lens. A scleral lens is also a hard lens, but is quite large compared to the lenses I was wearing and is inserted using a golf tee like device and removed with a suction cup. The lens rests on the sclera (the white part of the eye) and creates a thin space between the cornea and the lens, which you fill with a preservative free saline solution. Initially, I was a little skeptical thinking that this looks like a lot of extra work and the large size of the lens was a bit intimidating. However, if there was a chance I would have better vision and comfort, I was all in. Dr. Charrier completed the examination and prescribed my first pair of scleral lenses. That was a life changing moment! My eye sight today is better that is has been in 30 years. I insert the lenses every morning around 6:00am and don’t take them out until I go to bed at night. On average I wear the lenses around 15-16 hours a day. I rarely take them out to adjust or refill with saline solution. I don’t even realize they are in most of the time. I have never removed the lenses because of dust of other particles in the air. I have been wearing scleral lenses now for 6 years and have never had a single problem.
ADVICE TO OTHERS LIVING WITH KERATOCONUS
Find a doctor you trust. See the testimonial below for attributes to look for. Be willing to try new things. Technology is always changing and for me, changing to the scleral lens was life-changing.
I would like to acknowledge the doctors and staff at Family Visions Solutions. I have been a patient there for over 10 years and everyone - receptionists, administrators, assistants, technicians and doctors have treated me exceptionally well. Dr. Randy Charrier introduced me to the scleral lens and is the consummate professional. He genuinely cares about his patients, is passionate about his profession, always working to develop promising interns, and is current with the latest technology. For the last three years, I have been a patient of one of Dr. Charrier’s former interns, Dr. Kelsea Skidmore. She has all the same attributes as Dr. Charrier. She too genuinely cares about her patients and freely takes the time to educate patients and answer any questions. I recently asked Dr. Skidmore why she chose to work with keratoconus patients, because we’re not easy. She simply replied, “because I enjoy the challenge.” For that, I am so grateful!