Sudden Changes 

Richard knew that something was wrong with his vision when he began to experience constant headaches while reading. One morning, Richard woke up to find his vision had noticeably worsened. Hoping for the best, Richard went to visit an eye doctor to determine the root cause of the issue. Following a refractive exam, he was prescribed glasses. However, his frustration level rose when they had little impact on his symptoms.

After several detailed evaluations, Richard was diagnosed with keratoconus (KC) and given contact lenses to manage the condition. He received astigmatism type contacts, which at that point, he understood to be the best solution available– even if his eye health was far from its previous quality and would likely deteriorate further.

Finding an Unlikely Resource

Richard’s occupation as a full-time firefighter and Station Captain at a local fire department in the greater Salt Lake Area further complicated his ongoing battle with keratoconus and his quest to improve his eye health. While responding to calls, Richard was constantly getting smoke, dust, soot, and other debris in his eyes, and had to learn to deal with these factors in addition to his contact lenses.

Fortunately, Richard discovered a possible solution while searching online for information. He read about a procedure called corneal cross-linking that had been introduced in Europe, but at the time, in 2005, was not yet available in the US. Richard was encouraged and continued to learn more about his treatment options.

Richard soon learned of other doctors who were performing non-FDA approved procedures in clinical studies. However, he was uncertain about the risks and benefits of these options, and was more interested in something that was better understood. After exploring other treatments and finding little success, Richard feared that he was going to struggle with his vision for the rest of his life and it would likely continue to worsen.

Unfortunately, Richard’s vision steadily declined over the next 10 years due to a combination of his keratoconus and natural aging. If Richard’s sight continued to deteriorate further, he risked not passing his physical test and could have to give up his employment as a leader at one of the largest fire departments in the state of Utah.

However, a major breakthrough occurred in 2016 when cross-linking became FDA-approved in the US. After meeting with a new doctor, Richard was referred to an ophthalmologist. After over a decade of searching and countless consultations later, he was finally able to receive a procedure that he hoped would deter the worsening of his vision.

Moving Forward

Richard had the cross-linking procedure recently, and is eagerly waiting for his next follow-up appointment to check his visual progress.  During that appointment, he’ll be fitted for new contact lenses in the treated eye.

Richard and his eye doctor are happy with Richard’s results and will continue to monitor for any progression in his other eye. Right now, since he has good vision and the keratoconus is not yet progressing, they will wait to treat the second eye.

Although Richard will still need contact lenses for his visual function, he hopes that having undergone the cross-linking procedure, he is able to limit the progression of the disease. Richard is optimistic that he can maintain the current state of his vision and he is excited to continue his career as a fire-fighter.

Click here to read more KC Journeys.

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.