Persevering to Protect Vision

Brent is not known for slowing down when things get tough. As a personal trainer, he tends to power through. He’s accustomed to encouraging his clients to do the same, but when he was diagnosed with keratoconus, he learned that not everything gets easier the more you try to tough it out.

Adjusting Under Pressure

During his time in the National Guard, Brent learned to shoot right-handed even though he is left-side dominant because he was able to see more clearly with his right eye than his left. In his early twenties, Brent noticed a decline in his vision and made an appointment with an optometrist in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He left the practice with both soft contact lenses and glasses. For several years, he switched back and forth between the two corrective vision options. However, neither seemed to help him see as clearly as he had when trying them in the doctor’s office.

At 25, Brent visited a new optometrist in Aberdeen who thought he might have keratoconus, a condition which causes progressive warping of the cornea, and if left untreated, can lead to blindness. The new optometrist promptly referred him to his own client from the gym who Brent knew worked at a Sioux Falls vision practice that specialized in corneal conditions.

His client, now his own ophthalmologist, officially confirmed that he had keratoconus.

Initially, Brent felt a wave of uncertainty about his diagnosis. He was no longer sure what his future looked like, if he would be able to read the numbers on the weights he was lifting at the gym, or even if his keratoconus would progress to the point that he would have difficulty seeing his wife’s face.

A Lift in Momentum

Brent was fitted with a pair of hard contact lenses that meant to help him see more clearly. However, he soon became frustrated that his eyes would become red and dry while wearing the contacts and he could only wear them for about 5 hours at a time. In fact, the lenses were so uncomfortable that he would only wear one contact in his left eye, which was more progressed than his right eye, and even then, only when he played sports. He would occasionally mention this frustration in training sessions with his ophthalmologist.

During a return visit, the ophthalmologist recommended a procedure called corneal cross-linking, which is approved by the FDA to halt or slow the progression of keratoconus. He explained to Brent how cross-linking is a procedure that strengthens the collagen bonds in the eye to slow the progression of the disease.

Strengthening the Cornea

After some consideration, Brent received cross-linking on his more progressed left eye. Having a solid next step to take, have him some relief by just knowing he was taking back some control over the situation. Following the procedure, the recovery process went smoothly, and he was able to manage post-procedure discomfort with medication and eye drops.

Pleased with the outcome of the first procedure, Brent later had cross-linking on his right eye. His recovery transpired in much the same way as it had the first time. He was immensely grateful for his wife who helped him leading up to and after both of the procedures. “Melissa was there for me for every appointment and each procedure,” shared Brent gratefully.

“If I hadn’t been training my ophthalmologist and my wife wasn’t working at the practice, I’m not sure if I would have been fortunate enough to hear about the procedure when I did or where my vision would be today,” says Brent. He now manages his stable vision with soft contact lenses and regularly sees his optometrist.


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The results described on this site are based on data collected regarding short- and intermediate-term efficacy of treatment. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.