Growing up, I always aspired to be a pilot. I went for my first flight at the age of 14 and from that day on, I was hooked. I worked part time throughout my teenage years for one sole purpose: to fund my flight training. Everything went well, I achieved my pilots licence on my 16th birthday and I couldn't have been happier.
Fast forward a few years and things began to change. I'd just returned to flying after a bit of a break and was joking with my flying instructor that I must be going blind as I was beginning to struggle with reading the instrument panel. She mentioned at that time that I should go see my Optometrist but having had eye issues before, I took the situation on with a pretty relaxed attitude.
When I eventually did arrive at my Optometrist appointment I was shocked to hear the diagnosis of 'Keratoconus' - A disease I barely even knew how to say, let alone understand. Luckily for me I had an incredible Optometrist looking after me who was also a pilot.
John (my optometrist) referred me to probably the greatest Ophthalmologist ever and they both worked incredibly well together to figure out a plan of action for my eyes. Unfortunately though, they both agreed that it was unlikely I would be able to fly again.
I was booked in for Crosslinking on my right eye immediately, but was banned from flying indefinitely and driving until at least after my crosslinking. The surgery went well and has seemingly stopped progression in my right eye, the left is still being monitored and is likely awaiting Crosslinking at some point too. After recovery I was fitted with glasses and received my first pair of contacts - RGP's. I wanted to love the RGP's but too many issues arose from them, mainly due to the irregular shape of the Cornea and dryness of the eyes. I was allowed to drive again after receiving my glasses.
As it stands now I'm currently awaiting my new Sclerals which should make a huge difference. I've been informed that with those correct lenses I may be able to return to flying as a hobby, but still, a career in aviation is probably not likely.
None the less, I am forever grateful for the incredible work that both my Optometrist and Ophthalmologist have done to keep my sight at the level it is - It's not great, but I know it could be a whole lot worse.
The above story was shared by Jacob Fawkner.
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