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Keratoconus; The Story of My Cone-Shaped Eyes

I have keratoconus, a condition that makes my vision blurry and distorted. But I don’t let it stop me from pursuing my passions.

What if your eyes were shaped like cones? I still remember the day I found out I had keratoconus. It was during a routine eye exam at my optometrist's office. She noticed that my vision had worsened significantly since my last visit, and that I had irregular astigmatism in both eyes. She performed some tests to measure the shape of my cornea, the clear front part of the eye that helps focus light. She told me that my cornea was thinning and bulging outwards into a cone shape, which distorted my vision. She said this condition was called keratoconus, which means that I have cone-shaped eyes!

I was shocked and scared by this diagnosis. I had never heard of keratoconus before, and I didn't know what it meant for my future. Would I go blind? Would I need surgery? How would it affect my life? My optometrist tried to reassure me that there were treatments available to slow down the progression of keratoconus and improve my vision, such as special contact lenses or glasses. She said she would work with me to find the best option for me.

Since then, I have been struggling with keratoconus every day. It has affected many aspects of my life, such as studying, driving, and reading small prints.

Studying has become harder because I have difficulty reading books or screens for long periods of time. My eyes get tired and dry easily, and sometimes I see double or blurry images. I have to use magnifiers or zoom in on texts to see them clearly. Sometimes I get headaches or eye strain from straining my eyes too much.

Driving at night has become dangerous because I have sensitivity to light and glare. The headlights of other cars or street lamps make me squint or blink excessively. Sometimes I see halos or starbursts around lights, which distract me from the road. I have to wear sunglasses or tinted lenses to reduce the glare.

Reading small prints on labels when shopping has become frustrating because I have trouble seeing the details or colors of the products. Sometimes I can't tell if something is expired or not, or if it contains ingredients that I'm allergic to. Sometimes I have to ask someone else for help or use a scanner app on my phone to read the labels.

Despite these challenges, I have not given up hope. Thanks to my optometrist's patience and expertise, we have found a contact lens that works well for me. It is called a scleral lens, which covers the entire cornea and rests on the white part of the eye (the sclera). It creates a smooth surface for light to enter the eye without distortion. It also keeps moisture in the eye and prevents irritation from dust or debris.

A year ago, my optometrist suggested that I have a procedure called corneal crosslinking. He said it was a way to make my eyes stronger and prevent them from getting worse. She explained that she would use some drops and a special light to create more bonds between the fibers in my eyes. She said it was safe and effective, but it might cause some discomfort and temporary vision changes.

I agreed to do it, because I wanted to preserve my vision as much as possible. I had the procedure done on both eyes, one at a time. It took about an hour for each eye. It was not painful, but it felt weird and uncomfortable. I had to keep my eyes open while she applied the drops and shone the light on them. After the procedure, I had to wear a bandage contact lens for a few days and use drops. My vision was blurry and hazy at first, but it gradually improved over time. My optometrist checked my eyes regularly and said they were healing well.

She also said that the procedure had stopped the progression of keratoconus in my eyes. She showed me some tests that confirmed this. She said I still needed to wear contact lenses, but they would not change much anymore. I was happy and relieved that corneal crosslinking had worked for me. It gave me hope that I could keep seeing clearly for a long time.

The scleral lens has improved my vision significantly and made me more comfortable with keratoconus. It is not perfect though; sometimes it moves around in my eye or gets foggy from tears or mucus buildup. It also requires more care than regular contact lenses; I have to clean it daily with special solutions and store it in a case with saline solution overnight.

But these are minor inconveniences compared to what keratoconus can do without treatment. Keratoconus can worsen over time and cause scarring or thinning of the cornea that can lead to vision loss or blindness if left untreated. That's why I'm grateful for having an early diagnosis and treatment for keratoconus; it has saved me from losing more than just sight; it has saved me from losing quality of life.

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