I learned back Feburary of 2005 that I have an ocular disorder called keratoconus. I wore glasses for a short time, and soft contact lenses for an even shorter time, when I was in elementary and junior high school. After several years of not wearing glasses (and no eye examinations in the meantime), I was fitted with a spectacle perscription in 1997. In 2004, under some gentle but well-meaning pressure from my then-girlfriend Mollee I went to have an eye exam. I knew that my right eye had gotten worse, but I really had no conception of how much worse it had gotten.
The examnation seemed to be going normally, though my optometrist seemed to be having a lot of difficulty with my right eye. We kept trying different lenses and seeing very little improvement. After a few minutes, he explained the situation to me. He suspected that I might be suffering from keratoconus, and referred me to an ophthalmologist specializing in corneal disorders and treatment. The ophthalmologist confirmed the condition and told me more about it.
Keratoconus is the thinning of the cornea. The cornea stretches from the usual spherical shape into a conical bulge. As a result, vision is impaired. Rigid gas permeable contact lenses can help, but eventually the cornea can be come so misshapen that the lenses either can't be fitted, or can't be tolerated. The condition progresses differently in each eye. In my case, my right eye shows much more pronounced symptoms than my left, but my left eye does appear to be exhibiting the condition as well.
Right now I'm still wearing spectacles, and I have sharp vision from my left eye. My brain is editing out most of what my right eye sees, unfortunately. It's responsible for the halos I see around lights at night, and a lot of general blurriness. I know that I'm seeing a lot more from the right eye than I was before my new perscription, because I went through a short but very unnerving period, when I got my new spectacles, of adjusting to having three dimensional and acute depth perception again. I recall seeing some new type of video tape in a rental store down on a low shelf-- a squat, almost square tape. As I bent down, the aspect ratio changed, and I suddenly realized that it was just a VHS tape. It was all a bit unsettling, but I got used to it in a few weeks.
If the condition progresses, I'll have to move to contact lenses. If it continues to progress beyond that, and my vision degrades far enough, I'd require a corneal transplant to regain my lost acuity.
I'd like to say that I'm not frightened by this condition. I've always been horrified with the idea of having things stuck into my eyes, but to have to think about the possibility that I may someday have to undergo a corneal transplant makes me quake with fear. When I'm feeling particularly down, I think about how my dream of finishing my private pilot certification is likely now totally shot. When particularly petulant moods set in, I think about what it's going to be like when I can't see to use my Customers computers (and thus not able to continue running my consulting business), or when I'm not going to be able to drive. It even brings the whole idea of getting married and having children into question for me. How can I support my wife and children when I may lose the ability to work?
Mostly, I just try not to think about it, and to get on with my life. There's a treatment, corneal collagen cross-linking with riboflavin, that I want to research more closely. I need to get in touch with my optometrist and opthalmologist and see if it's really something that is being done by reputable outfits, and if it's something that might benefit me.