How can you ever say 'thank you' for your eyesight?

My vision does fluctuate every few years, but I consider myself very blessed and have won the battle with Keratoconus and Cataracts.

As a child, I started having vision problems when I was five. (1959) I was diagnosed as "Extremely Far Sighted" in both eyes and wore glasses for 3 years. At 8 years old my eyes were fine. Mom continued to have my eyes examined every year with no problems.

At 15, (1968) I flunked a vision test at school so they sent me to an optometrist who could not refract my right eye. I was sent to an Ophthalmologist who immediately diagnosed me with Keratoconus and started me wearing an RGP lens. The left eye got jealous and two years later, (1970) was diagnosed with keratoconus and got an RGP lens for it.

This is my passport picture in 1977 for a college choir tour of Europe. Notice that I can't open my eyes all the way.

If you look carefully, you can see the rgp on my left eye. Both eyes reflected the camera flash. At that time, the best the RGP'S could give me was 20/80 and I could only tolerate the lenses for 8 hours.

A trip to Europe was the thrill of a life-time but I couldn't see it well. :(

I wore RGP lenses up till 1980 when my right eye had a severe hydrops condition due to wearing an RGP lens for so many years. My doctor put me on the waiting list for a cornea transplant. I waited 6 weeks for a donor, had the surgery and spent two days in the hospital afterward. I had some vascularization and was on Decadron cream and drops and kept the stitches over a year.

After stitch removal and a new contact lens (a soft one this time), I could see 20/20. It was incredible. I didn't know just how bad my eye had become. I could see the leaves on the trees, could pass on the highway. WOW! Two years later the left eye got jealous again and I went through the transplant procedure for it. That time, I had to wait SIX MONTHS for a donor. This transplant did great too..

National Eye Donor Month 2017 - Keratoconus Group


After moving to NC In 1985, the vision in the right eye deteriorated to the point that I had a relaxing incision (sort like an RK on a transplant) at Duke Eye Center in NC. It helped quite a bit and I was able to see 20/20 out of that eye with glasses.

Back in Arkansas In 1998, I noticed premature cataracts forming in each eye. The doctors believe they were caused by the 21 years of Decadron and other steroids I was taking for Asthma. I then had my first cataract surgery. It was s complete success and I was able to see 20/25 with glasses afterward.

Of course, my left eye was jealous again and I had cataract surgery in it in 1999. This one was not successful. The lens implant came out of the capsule 3 days later. I had a Vitrectomy under general anesthesia, where a cornea/cataract specialist and a retinal specialist took out the old lens and sewed a new one back into what was left of the capsule.

This procedure caused my eyes to have Strabismus. Every 4 months, I had an Occlinum (Botox) injection into the left eye muscle for a period of a year. Today, I wear comfortable Tri focal glasses with prism and am seeing 20/30 in both eyes.

I started seeing my current doctor In 2015. He had NEVER seen anyone with grafts THIS old doing so well! He said that I am not the norm but the exception to the rule. Most grafts don't last over 20-25 years.

I have my yearly checkup next month. Usually, it’s “you are doing great, see you next year, call if you have any problems.” I will probably need another Rx in the glasses. The vision does fluctuate every few years. I consider myself very blessed and have won the battle with Keratoconus and Cataracts.

All of my eye problems never did stop me from living my life and doing the things I wanted. I graduated high school, got a degree in vocal music, attended seminary ordained and was a church music minister till my retirement December 31, 2016.

With my Crystal Cornea Award at Eye Bank Board Meeting
With my Crystal Cornea Award at Eye Bank Board Meeting

I have volunteered my time and experiences with Arkansas Lions Clubs, held several offices and been a speaker for eye donation. I was also a "Pony Express" driver transporting eyes for emergency surgeries and also on the board of directors for the Lions Eye Bank. Received the "Crystal Cornea Award" for my service. How can you ever say "thank you" for your eyesight? By volunteering and working to help others that have eye problems. ©¿©¬

Doug Beasley (Twitter @2fratalumnus)

2 comments:

  1. Boy, you've been through a lot. Any time I start feeling sorry for myself, all I have to do is read stories like yours and realize I'm pretty lucky. I give you a lot of credit for all of your volunteer work.

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    1. Thank you so much. Now since I am retired, I would like to be more active helping people. Two families donated their loved one's corneas for me. This is how I am saying "thanks"

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