For over 40 years, Jimmy learned to live with and manage his keratoconus using a contact lens. However, as his keratoconus continued to impact his ability to remain active, the potential need for a corneal transplant became a concern. As his condition continued to progress, he knew he needed to find a treatment to preserve his vision.
Adapting to a Change
Jimmy, now 63 years old, was in his 20s when he was first diagnosed with keratoconus in his left eye. At the time of his diagnosis, he had never heard of the condition and didn’t know anyone else who was living with it. In fact more than 40 years later, he still doesn’t know anyone personally who has KC, although he is familiar with some professional athletes with the condition.
Despite his diagnosis, Jimmy has remained determined to stay active and play the sports he has always loved, including golf, softball, and pickleball. Although at times his keratoconus has caused him to miss out on enjoying some of these activities and has even interfered with his schooling and career, Jimmy has never let it get him down.
For most of his adult life Jimmy wore a gas permeable lens in his left eye to see better and to manage the symptoms of his keratoconus. While his vision is very poor in that eye without any correction, he recently made the switch to a scleral lens and is now seeing 20/20. Like many individuals, Jimmy regularly visits his eye doctor to address any vision changes and to determine if there has been any progression of his keratoconus.
Although Jimmy was managing his keratoconus with a contact lens for some time, there were some things that he still had trouble with. He struggled with certain activities that he could no longer do while wearing his lens, such as swimming or going to the beach on a windy day. Sometimes while playing softball, he would have to stop and come off the field because dust would get into his eye. Interestingly enough, one of the biggest challenges Jimmy experienced while wearing his gas permeable lens was not being able to take a nap with the lens in.
Being Proactive vs. Reactive
If left untreated, as many as 1 in 5 patients with progressive keratoconus may require a corneal transplant, with more than half needing multiple transplants within 20 years.1, 2. This is not a road that Jimmy wanted to go down. As someone who is also living with rheumatoid arthritis and is immunocompromised, he knew that a corneal transplant would be a risky option that he wanted to avoid.
When visiting his doctor, Dr. Ira A. Shivitz of Cornea Consultants of Nashville, for a yearly check-up, he recommended that Jimmy receive iLink FDA-approved cross-linking, which is meant to slow or halt the progression of keratoconus. When doing some additional research on the iLink procedure, Jimmy discovered the Living with Keratoconus website where he learned that his insurance provider covers the procedure and there is also a Living with Keratoconus Patient Support Program to help cover some of his out of pocket costs. He enrolled in the program and verified his eligibility.
During the summer of 2020, Jimmy received FDA-approved cross-linking on his left eye. Afterwards, he submitted a voucher request as part of the Patient Support Program and received $100 toward his cross-linking co-pay expenses.
After receiving the iLink procedure, Jimmy now has more peace of mind in terms of his future with keratoconus. His overall quality of life hasn’t changed as he has been successfully managing his condition for many years, but he is happy that his keratoconus has not progressed further. With a properly fitted corrective lens in his left eye, he will be able to remain active, especially when it comes to doing what he loves, including playing sports and working in the yard – activities that proved difficult in the past due to his vision issues.
Jimmy also recognizes the importance of raising awareness for various conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and keratoconus, and their available treatment options. Specifically, Jimmy helps raise awareness for rheumatoid arthritis by donating to The Arthritis Foundation. According to Jimmy, he wouldn’t be where he is today without those around him who are helping to raise awareness. Now, he wants to join them and help to raise awareness around keratoconus and the available treatment options, including FDA-approved cross-linking.
Pramanik S, Musch DC, Sutphin JE, Farjo AA. Extended long-term outcomes of penetrating keratoplasty for keratoconus. Ophthalmology 2006;113(9):1633-8.
Maharana PK, Agarwal K, Jhanji V, Vajpayee RB. Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty for keratoconus: a review. Eye Contact Lens 2014;40(6):382-9.
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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.