Gareth’s experiences with Keratoconus, KeraSoft and Cross Linking (CXL)
Cross Linking (CXL) – Left Eye
At the beginning of July, I returned to Dr Jory for my left eye to be Cross Linked. i was offered the opportunity to have the Femto Pocket Cross Linking, which I opted for. The procedure was shorter and the epithelial did not have to be completely removed. The procedure took much less time. I instantly noted that my eye was far less uncomfortable and my journey home was much easier. I was able to remove the eye patch later that evening and my vision was less ‘cloudy’. My vision was also very reasonable and I found I was able to manage at home without any issues over the next few days. I found that my level of vision was significantly improved. My vision was much sharper and clearer.
Cross Linking (CXL) and My New Life!
After the Femto pocket procedure in my left eye, I instantly noticed that since having both eyes Cross Linked I no longer get ‘tired eye’ days, as my vision appears to be consistently good each day I was able to wear my KeraSoft lenses after a matter of a few days. The main benefit of having both eyes Cross Linked is the relief of knowing that my Keratoconus will not get any worse and, as they say, things now can only get better!
I now look forward to being fitted with new lenses that I know I won’t ‘grow out’ of, now my corneas are both stable. The Cross Linking procedure for me was a no brainer. It was worth the investment alone for the peace of mind I now have.I am confident I will now be able to be fitted with comfortable contact lenses. I am also very pleased that i can continue with my spare time activities, including cycling, and boxing and motorcycling.
Cross Linking (CXL) – Right Eye
I had my right eye Cross Linked with the ‘Epi’ off procedure in March this year in London, by Dr Jory.
The first part of the procedure involved removing the epithelial (first layer) from my eye. Following that, Riboflavin drops were added periodically and then around 40 minutes of exposure to concentrated UV light. Following the procedure I was able to walk out with an eye patch on.
During the first 24 hours my right eye was very uncomfortable and I found things manageable with the curtains in the house shut and a pair of sunglasses on, as I was very sensitive to light. I was given antibiotic and pain relief drops to apply regularly, each day for 7 days. As time progressed the uncomfortable feeling lessened and I was able to venture outside, albeit with my sunglasses on! After 2 to 3 days, I found I was able to drive.
Over the next few weeks, my right eye started to feel more stable and I noticed that it began to maintain a steady level of vision. I no longer have ‘bad eye’ days. I was able to return to wearing KeraSoft lenses around 2 weeks after the procedure, I opted to leave it as long as possible to allow my eye to heal.
How it started
I first noticed my vision wasn’t quite “right” when I went through RAF basic training at 19. That’s when I started to notice the vision in my right eye was getting more blurry. I wasn’t really expecting anything to be that wrong but I came away with glasses. Me – needing glasses? No way! I was mortified! Then, my eyes seemed to keep changing over the next few months, every change meaning stronger glasses.
My Optician discussed the condition with me. He said my eyes could get a lot worse. In a short space of time I had gone from perfect vision, to glasses and then to a rare eye condition. My stress levels went up several notches!
The next step was to be fitted with RGP lenses, which I was told was the usual way of managing the condition. At the same time, I was referred through the NHS to a specialist, who confirmed I had keratoconus.
How it affected me
This was when life as I knew it started to change. I like my sports – squash and boxing – and I ride a motorbike.
We take good vision for granted and now I was reliant on RGP lenses just to be able to see. What’s more they were really uncomfortable and I dreaded having to put them in.
I had left the RAF (due to injury) and managed to struggle through a 6 month unemployment period with just my glasses.
I then started a job as a sheet metal worker and wearing RGPs in that dusty environment and having to do welding, well it was never going to work. I found after a day welding, and working to precise measurements, my eyesight was pretty useless by the evening.
Going out with my mates was another issue. I don’t like glasses. They really didn’t help much anyway and although the RGPs gave good vision, I really couldn’t do with the lack of comfort to wear them “out”.
By the end of an evening I’d be wandering around looking for my friends. In dim lighting, though, I couldn’t make out peoples features to recognise anyone.
Then my job started to become an issue again, I had trained and started working as a Policeman, a job which I love and want to do to the best of my abilities.
However, there were a few occasions where I was stood in the middle of a town centre of a cold night and my hard contact lenses would literally just fall out!
If I wore my glasses to work I would have to quickly take them off and put them away before getting ‘involved’ in any situation where they could get knocked off.
Getting my life back with KeraSoft IC
I discovered that you can get soft lenses for keratoconus which sounded great to me.
I made an appointment with an optometrist that fitted KeraSoft IC. This was a huge step forward; with these lenses I could see again and they were comfortable! I now had all day vision without having to think about it.
I could now work effectively (without worrying about my lenses falling out or my spectacles getting knocked off), play squash and go back to boxing with confidence. It also meant I could ride my bike!
But – I also began to realise my vision wasn’t stable. When it was blurred all the time, I couldn’t “see” how much my vision changed from day to day. I could now really tell “good” days from “bad” days – when vision is so off, nothing seems “right
My optometrist explained how keratoconus means the cornea is so soft, even sleeping on your front at night can press on the eye and change your vision.
Corneal Cross Linking (CXL)
We discussed the new treatment, CXL, which helps to stiffen the cornea and halt progression. Although it doesn’t put your eye back to “normal”, apparently vision can improve over time.
I was referred to an ophthalmologist and after talking it through; decided to go for it. I just wanted to get on with my life and not worry about keratoconus any more,
The good thing about the KeraSoft IC lenses is that you can get back into them a week or so after the op. If I had still been wearing my RGPs it would have been 2 months.