I found out I had a degenerative eye condition the day I went in for my pre-surgical consultation for LASIK vision correction. I was so excited about having my nearsightedness fixed, and I had no idea that I would be turned down for the procedure. I’d been wearing glasses since I was a kid. I don’t even know how many eye exams I’d had over the years, but it was a lot. Nothing prepared me for the news that I had a condition called keratoconus.
What is keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a degenerative eye condition, which means it gets worse over time. It is a non-inflammatory condition in which the cornea grows more and more cone-shaped as you age. This elongation causes your vision to get worse and worse, but it is not correctable by LASIK surgery because the tissue in the cornea thins as it grows more misshapen. Only a special exam used to map the cornea actually caught the malformation in my eyes. It affects about 1 in 2,000 people, but many are undiagnosed.
Treating the condition
I had to come to terms with the fact that my eyes are going to get worse and worse until I am eventually so blind that only a cornea transplant will help. That involved a lot of anger and depression, and many, many tears. After fully researching my condition I decided on a plan. I have very dry eyes, so wearing contacts is painful. For now, I will stick with glasses, and when my eye doctor says that the condition has progressed to the point that I need contacts to try to slow its progress, I will switch. Hard lenses will be required and I do not look forward to wearing those. There is no way to tell how fast my keratoconus will progress, as it sometimes goes slowly and then speeds up rapidly for no apparent reason.
Coping with the emotions
For the first year or so after I was diagnosed, I was quite simply terrified of losing my vision. I cried many times over the unfairness of it all. After some time had passed, my husband had the LASIK procedure done on his eyes, and he has been able to see without correction ever since. That also took a lot to get through, because I was very happy for him but still sad for myself, and truthfully, more than a little jealous. I have overcome most of the negative emotions now, and I am prepared to face whatever the future holds.
Anyone who suffers a loss knows that it takes time to work through the pain. I lost a future without glasses and it was replaced by a scary future of possible blindness, but I know that I can handle what comes. I know that things could be worse. A lot worse. So I just pray for a slow progression and perhaps new advances in treating keratoconus safely, and I look at the beauty in the world while I can.
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