Thursday, March 13, 2008

To See or Not To See, That Was The Question

Apparently, the cat is out of the bag. Only a handful of people knew I had bad eyes, and only a select few even knew the extent of how bad they were. Well, not sure how or why, but it was announced to the world during the World Championships in Altenberg, Germany. Oh well, now that you all know, I'll fill you in on the details.

I have a degenerative eye disease called Keratoconus. Here's a good definition, "A progressive disease of the eye in which the cornea becomes progressively thinner and the development of an irregular, cone-like corneal protrusion occurs. As the disease progresses, vision becomes increasingly distorted." Notice the "increasingly distorted" I was diagnosed in mid-2001. It's been 7 years; that means I'm not doing so well.

Anyway, for some fun, I'll show you some images that a couple gentleman created to show the rest of the world what it is like to have Keratoconus. Here is what Dr. Elio Spinello and Ian McCain said about what they have created: "KCVision is a compilation of images designed to help communicate how and what individuals with Keratoconus see. Keratoconus impacts the cornea which is the clear window of the eye and is responsible for refracting most of the light coming into the eye. Therefore, abnormalities of the cornea severely affect the way we see the world making simple tasks, like driving, watching TV or reading a book difficult. One of the best descriptions of keratoconus vision is that it is similar to looking through a car windshield on a rainy day. These images may be useful in helping to communicate the severity of vision problems to friends and family members of KC patients, they are also useful in helping to understand some of the limitations that those with KC face on a daily basis."
(Have I told you what Keratoconus is yet?)

So, please observe, learn, and appreciate what these individuals, including myself have to live with on a day to day basis.

These two images show what a normal person sees, and what a person with moderate Keratoconus sees. This is what we call "Double Vision"

The Glare Effect

This is Ghosting

I'm sure they all look pretty much the same; but as an expert, they aren't and it's interesting to talk to Opthamologists about the condition because they actually know what I'm saying. For your information, I was more on the "Ghosting"/"Double Vision" side. I usually had to choose, the middle one. That may be why when I have few too many drinks and people tell me to follow the one in the middle, I don't have much of a problem; I was already following that one. OK, bad joke. But if you can't laugh about it, you can't live with it.

Well, the reason for this post is to tell you that last week I had my vision corrected with an ICL (Implantable Collamer Lens, or which is easier to remember Implantable Contact Lens)

If you would like to see how it goes, here is a link to the "Today Show" that did a live filming of an operation; the day before I had my operation. I had to dodge some of their equipment. Here is the video. (I'll post a link just in case you can't see it)

So, as you can see. (haha, pun intended) I can see now. It's been a week and I'm still getting used to my new vision. In fact, I keep running in to things because I'm not used to the depth-perception. It's awkward. I'm sure I'll manage. Anyway, my vision has gone from 20/500 to 20/20. It is still fluctuating because my eyes are still adapting to the ICL, but whatever the outcome finally settles at, it will be better that what it was before.
See you next season!!!
P.S A great comparison that has come to my attention over the weekend, is the strength of contact lenses. I can't tell you how many times I've had to hear, "you have bad eyes? Well, gee, let me tell you how bad mine are". For years people have been trying to 1-up me; but they are always floored when they hear where I am, in fact, they don't believe me half the time. So, for all of you out there that know your prescription and have worn contacts I'll let you in on how my eyes are, or were. Most people have lenses that are -1.00, or -4.00, maybe even -7.00. That is pretty bad, I'm not going to sugar coat it. Well, for all of you out there that think your eyes are bad, my prescription was -16.75. That is not a typo, I'll say it again, -16.75. I'm not going to go any further in to it because I don't have to. -16.75

I would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for making this happen:

The United States Olympic Committee
The United States Bobsled & Skeleton Federation
Wes Barnett
Brian Shimer
Dr. Scott Stoll
Ted Offit
John Ball
John Donovan
Marci Francis
John Rosen

Doug Bagley

Kevin Ellis
Valerie Fleming
Darrin Steele
Lisa Carlock


Laser Eye Surgery said...

I normally dont care about the Olympics. However I too have keratokonus and anytime I can root for a fellow keratokonus sufferer, I am up for it. Go team USA!

-Holcomb said...

Thanks. We Keratoconus folk need to stick together! Thanks for your support.

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Kristen said...

I had LASIK about 6 years ago without knowing I had keratoconus. The laser surgery made my disease progress really fast and my vision starting getting bad about 3 years later. It is comforting to know there is someone else out there that knows what it is like to live with this. I have been to Duke universitys eye center to see a cornea specialist and have been dealing with this for about 2 years. I've had intacs implanted in my left eye, which is the bad one, and I am currently wearing glasses but still have horrible vision. Double vision, squinting and blurriness is what I deal with on a daily basis. The only option I have left is a cornea transplant but I am only 34 and they want me to wait. Sorry this is so long but it is just nice to be able to tell this to someone that actually understands what I am going through and your story gives me hope. Good luck at the Olympics and I will be watching (well the best that I can) for you to win GOLD!

BonnieP said...

Congratulations on the Gold medal. we are do proud. We love Nascar and when we heard that Bodine was building the sleds we were hooked on bobsleding. I couldn't believe it when I heard you talking before the race about keratoconus. My husband who is 53 just found out he has this disease, he has been fitted with a contact but he is having trouble with it. I would like to know when you had the proceedure and where you had it done. His dr told us that there is a new procedure but it was not approved in the US, that was in Sept 2009, I would appreciate any information thanks and we are so proud of all the athletics. We thank you for your hard work!!!

Ashlynne said...

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John Forrester said...

orthokeratology lenses is a nonsurgical vision correction procedure which corrects sight problems (nearsightedness) and provides clear, comfortable vision throughout the entire day. It is a clinically proven way to slow down near sighted progression in children as well.

What results should our funding be based on?

Who is the US Bobsled Team?

During the season Bobsledders and Skeleton-ers are paid for the races that take place each weekend. Skeleton athletes get paid $1000 for their 1 race. Since bobsledders race twice in a weekend should they be paid twice?

How much equipment should be given to the #1 team