Preparing for a Cornea Transplant after living with Keratoconus
19 Jul 2022
I have an eye condition called Keratoconus in both of my eyes.
What is Keratoconus?
“Keratoconus is characterized by the thinning of the cornea and irregularities of the cornea’s surface. The cornea is the clear, outer layer at the front of your eye. The middle layer is the thickest part of the cornea, mostly made up of water and a protein called collagen. Collagen makes the cornea strong and flexible, and helps keep its regular, round shape. This healthy cornea focuses light so you can see clearly. With Keratoconus, the cornea thins and bulges into an irregular cone shape, resulting in vision loss.” ~ Johns Hopkins Medical
Unfortunately, there is no known prevention for Keratoconus.
Sunday, May 23, 2021
Last year on the sunny and warm May long weekend, Wendy and I had just finished washing our pollen-covered vehicles in the driveway. Going outside on a day when the pollen was so bad was my first mistake. The girls really wanted to go for ice cream, but I didn’t really feel like leaving the house, so I stayed home and watched TV while they went out. While sitting there, my eyes started to itch. I took an antihistamine but started to rub my eyes. Rubbing my eyes was my second mistake.
I felt like I had something in my right eye. So I started to wash my eye with water. When that didn’t work, Wendy went to Shoppers Drug Mart and picked up an eye wash. We tried that for about an hour. When it didn’t relieve the pain, she took me to the hospital. The emergency doctor tested my eye, found a scratch on my cornea, and said that I needed to come back and see the ophthalmologist the next day for a second opinion.
The ophthalmologist diagnosed that the inner layer of my cornea had torn. That is what the uncomfortable sensation was. I was in for a rough few months.
What are the risk factors for Keratoconus?
Patients with a family history of Keratoconus or with certain systemic disorders, such as Down syndrome, are at a higher risk of developing Keratoconus.
Chronic Eye Inflammation
Constant inflammation from allergies or irritants can contribute to the destruction of corneal tissue that may result in developing Keratoconus.
Chronic eye rubbing is associated with developing Keratoconus. It may also be a risk factor for disease progression.
Keratoconus is often discovered in the teenage years. Generally, young patients with advanced Keratoconus are more likely to need some form of surgical intervention as the disease progresses.
Source: Johns Hopkins Medical
There are a few ways to treat this condition, up to and including a cornea transplant. At the time, I figured the drops would help. They did, and my vision returned to what it was before the injury in about 3 months. But in that time, it was quite frustrating with a strict schedule of eye ointment and drops, and a liquid-filled bulging cornea.
From May through July, it felt like there was something under my eyelid, and that someone was constantly pressing their finger on my eyeball. For someone that doesn’t like anything near their eyes, this was quite difficult to deal with. Wendy and the girls helped to administer the drops.
I kept this mostly to myself, as it was during the pandemic, and I didn’t want friends or family to worry. I stayed home for the most part, away from allergens that would make me want to scratch my eyes out. It also took a toll on my mental health.
This Friday, I go in for cornea transplant surgery on my right eye. Not gonna lie… my anxiety is pretty high right now. I just got back from my pre-op appointment where they did additional tests, and walked me through the risks and recovery. The procedure should take approximately 90 minutes.
If you’ve got positive vibes or are the type that prays, I could use some sent my way.