"Well Mr. Johnston, I don't think this check up is going to be as simple as you'd hoped."
I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Doctors always make me so damn nervous, mostly because you never suspect that something is wrong until they tell you. They give you problems you didn't know you had.
"We couldn't get a good reading on the surface of your eyes because we think you have something called Keratoconus."
"Is it serious?"
"It can be. Luckily, it seems we caught yours early. We'll need to get you glasses, contacts, and we're referring you to a specialist. Have you ever worn contacts before?"
"No, I haven't. My girlfriend does though, like the ones you can roll up in a ball they're so soft. Am I getting those?"
"No. You're getting rigid lenses. Basically hard contacts. They were what people originally wore, before soft contacts became popular. They'll help reshape your eyes and flatten them out, how they need to be."
"Will this stop them from getting worse?"
"They should. If not, there are surgically implanted 'intacts' that slip right in your eye and also flatten them out. Or you can undergo cross linking. Basically strengthening your eyes with riboflavin."
I walked around the mall while they got my rigid lenses ready. Would my vision really get that bad? Had it really been that bad? Was this just some scam to get extra money out of a patients pocket? Glasses were expensive enough, but $250 for custom, uncomfortable contacts? Ones that required special solution and manual cleaning no doubt. What a pain.
"Alright Mr. Johnston, we'll just be numbing your eyes for the first time you put them in. After the drops wear off, you'll definitely experience some discomfort."
The doctor's latex gloved hand popped in the left, and then the right. My vision suddenly seemed better. So much better.
"Wow...I-I didn't really..."
"Realize how much it had affected you already? A lot of keratoconus patients don't. Your blurred vision should improve with continued wear, as well as that nasty light refraction problem you've been having."
Tail lights at night looked like they had threads woven by drunken spiders trailing off them. Now I knew why. And signs that my headlights bounced off of didn't seem quite so bright, and there wasn't any doubling.
Even though a doctor may deliver the bad news, at least they have a way to help. Sure, rigid lenses can be annoying, and seeing a specialist frequently is a pain.
But at least we're able to get these kinds of treatments and information for a condition that I'm guessing a lot of us never heard of before we're told we suffer from it. But there is help. And with that help, a community of people, also suffering from the same condition, that can offer great advice, and provide a steady backbone of support for each other.
The above story was shared by Ben Johnston, a member of our Reddit Keratoconus Community.