Unusual Vision Changes
What do you do when you or a loved one notices a change in vision? While going to the doctor might be scary for some, a proper eye exam can help determine if you are living with any underlying conditions that require treatment. However, if you haven’t received an eye exam in the past, it could be difficult finding a physician or knowing what to expect.
When it comes to finding an eye doctor, some people may rely on referrals from family and friends, while others do research online. This can include looking for physicians who are in their area, reading the reviews of the practices and physicians’ online, and seeing which practices accept their insurance plan.
If you have already been diagnosed with a specific condition, such as keratoconus, where do you go from there? Start by looking for a doctor in your area who is familiar with treating your condition. It is also important to know if your current insurance plan covers these treatments, such as FDA approved epi-off corneal cross-linking, specialty contact lenses, Intacts®, etc.
To prepare for your next eye appointment, think about the questions ahead of your visit. For example, questions can include how your condition could progress, if the condition is genetic (and if other family members should be screened), what treatments are being offered at the practice, and the cost of different treatments with or without insurance.
The journey to finding the right doctor is different for everyone. Here’s how five patients were able to find their keratoconus experts and why they decided to receive FDA approved cross-linking.
Every Keratoconus Journey is Different
Baylen – In 5th grade, Baylen started wearing a contact lens in his left eye to correct his nearsightedness. While the contact seemed to manage his vision issues, he soon began experiencing chronic headaches that impacted his ability to function in and out of school. A few months later, Baylen’s dad took him to his annual eye exam where the doctor noticed something irregular about his cornea and immediately referred him to a corneal specialist. Forty-eight hours after the initial exam, Baylen and his parents traveled more than an hour to Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls, where Dr. John Berdahl determined that Baylen was living with keratoconus.
Baylen’s parents felt relieved to know exactly what was going on with their son and decided to treat his progressive keratoconus as soon as possible, using FDA approved corneal cross-linking. To learn more about Baylen’s experiences read his Keratoconus Journey here.
Charlie – Charlie began complaining of vision issues in his early childhood and an eye doctor soon diagnosed him with nearsightedness and an astigmatism. Despite being fitted with glasses, Charlie continued to have trouble seeing the chalkboard at school. After years and countless appointments nothing seemed to truly fix his vision problems.
Charlie’s teachers also noticed he had difficulty focusing during class and suggested he be evaluated for attention deficit disorder (ADD), but his doctors determined he did not have the disorder. When Charlie was a sophomore in high school, he visited a contact lens specialist who suggested that his unusual symptoms might be keratoconus.
Hearing the specialist talk about keratoconus was a real epiphany for his parents as it suddenly made sense why he had struggled for so many years and why none of the previous vision correction attempts were successful. A follow up appointment with Dr. Ken Beckman of Comprehensive Eye Care Central Ohio, confirmed the diagnosis and it was the first time they learned about available treatment option. Soon after considering their available options, Charlie underwent FDA approved corneal cross-linking to help preserve his vision. To learn more about Charlie’s experiences read the family’s Keratoconus Journey.
Bekah – Bekah went to her local DMV to renew her expiring driver’s license, never expecting that she would fail the test due to her vision. At an ophthalmologistappointment, Bekah faced more unexpected news when she was told she had keratoconus. Bekah was fitted for rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses to help correct her vision and was able to pass the vision portion of the driver’s test and renew her license.
A year later, the lenses stopped working and Bekah focused on learning everything she could about keratoconus, Intacs®, and cross-linking. Bekah researched and visited countless ophthalmologists around her state before finding the right doctor for her: Dr. Edward Wade of Eye Centers of Texas in Houston. After meeting with Dr. Wade, Bekah received FDA approved cross-linking. To learn more about Bekah’s experience read her Keratoconus Journey today.
Dan – In his early teens, Dan noticed a minor change in his vision, but assumed it was nothing serious since it wasn’t affecting his daily life. However, after scoring low on the vision test as part of his application for the NYPD, he was told that he needed to visit an eye doctor.
Dan assumed he would be fitted with corrective lenses, but he didn’t expect to see three doctors that would all tell him they couldn’t make an accurate diagnosis. Finally, Dan met with an ophthalmologist who was able to recognize the symptoms of keratoconus right away.
Dan was then referred to Dr. Eric D. Donnenfeld, of Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island (OCLI) who shared that the only treatment option to slow or halt the progression of his disease was FDA approved corneal cross-linking. To learn more about Dan’s story, read his Keratoconus Journey here.
Max – During a routine optometrist visit, Max’s doctor became concerned with the shape of his cornea and referred him to the local hospital for further evaluation. During a second assessment, Max underwent a series of corneal tests that monitor for vision problems and he was officially diagnosed with keratoconus.
While on vacation in Florida six months after his diagnosis, Max’s mom Sandy found herself in a shared Uber ride with a keratoconus specialist, who not only happened to be from their home state, but was also staying at their hotel and attending a keratoconus seminar. The specialist gave Sandy the information for Dr. Ken Beckman of Comprehensive Eye Care Central Ohio, a local physician who was offering the latest treatment for progressive keratoconus.
A couple of months after their vacation, Max and his parents connected with the ophthalmologist to learn more about cross-linking to treat his progressing keratoconus. To read more about Max’s journey check out his Keratoconus Journey today.
Advocate for Yourself
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure you find an expert familiar with treating your condition. Seek out support from groups and communities where people can learn more about their diagnosis and build relationships with other members of the keratoconus community. Learning to be your own health advocate doesn’t come easily to everyone, but by doing so you can gain a greater sense of control over your health and increased confidence when making treatment decisions.
Drs. Ken Beckman and John Berdahl are paid consultants of Avedro.
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