Keratoconus, what? Here’s one reality. All business owners and entrepreneurs deal with some kind of ailment and health issue. Some are public about it and others are not. As a writer and business owner, I use many devices for writing. And, of course, I need my eyes to see everything.
Perhaps you wear contact lenses or wear (reading) glasses. Business owners with eye conditions understand the need for vision correction in order to be successful.
How Common is Keratoconus?
One day your vision is nearly 20/20. The next week your eyes struggle to see correctly. Keratoconus usually begins during teenage years through almost two decades. No worries. The eyes do not go blind from the condition.
Rather, the cornea’s start to gradually take the shape of cones or the tips of footballs, which causes distortion.
This process is due to “sagging” of the tissues. And, the cornea’s begin to thin. Your eyes should naturally look like “domes” or “circular.”
According to The Global Keratoconus Foundation, “the condition occurs in 50 to 230 per 100,000 population,” and will create vision loss in two ways:
l. From distortion of the cornea: Seeing through a misshapen cornea is like taking pictures with a camera whose lens has an irregular (not smooth) surface. Parts of the picture or field of vision are in focus and parts are out of focus. This visual problem is called irregular astigmatism.
2. From scarring or swelling of the cornea: Seeing through a scarred or swollen cornea is like taking pictures with a camera with a dirty or cloudy lens. The image or vision is blurred.
Doctors cannot tell if Keratoconus is hereditary. However, they mostly connect it to family members who deal with severe astigmatisms. It is detected early by a lessened vision and the inability to see things from a distance, also known as nearsightedness.
How Keratoconus My Life Changed
Before the age of 17, I maintained 20/20 vision in both eyes. At 21, my optometrist mentioned how I entered the early stages of Keratoconus. What did I know at that time? I knew enough to ask,
“Doc? Is this anything to worry about now?”
“Not necessarily. But, you should monitor it closely, from this point forward. For now, we can treat it with a hard, glass-type contact lens,” the Dr. responded.
I cannot tell you I followed these instructions. I didn’t have to. Each Drs’ visit revealed how the condition grew worse, which increased my eyeglass prescription every two years.
How Keratoconus Affects Your Vision
The condition will cause a lot squinting. It created a lot of trouble for me. People thought I looked at them mean or with disgust per se.
No one believed my vision was growing progressively worse. At night, the street lights appeared ghostly with a halo. Street signs and people walking looked as if there were two or three of them.
One evening, I sat home watching television. During a commercial, I went into the bathroom. When I turned on the lights, a burst of webs and sparkles hit both eyes.
Within seconds, my eyes became sensitive to the lights. This experience constrained me to wear sunglasses for three months. I immediately went to the eye doctor. It got bad enough to move up to an ophthalmologist, who officially diagnosed me with the eye disorder: Keratoconus.
He highly recommended a surgical procedure called Corneal Crosslinking or CXL. It is a commonly practiced method in Europe making its way to become official in the US.
Currently, ophthalmologists are using the procedure as a study to prove that it can help patients with this disorder. I was a part of the survey. Signing many forms and waivers, I became a statistic to help someone else and add to their vision benefits.
CXL is a 5-hour process, which includes two prongs to hold open your eyes, a series of four to five different drops, a sponge with drops placed on the eye and moves in a circular motion for a certain amount of minutes.
After each eye session, the assistants apply UV lighting for some minutes. The procedure is designed to stop bulging of the eye surface and strengthen its tissue. Also, it is an out of pocket expense.
What Happens After the Keratoconus Procedure?
I continue to see the ophthalmologist. There are days where my eyes continue to experience sensitivity to light and are affected by allergies.
The Dr. prescribed special contact lenses. Interestingly, vision insurance does not cover this disorder. It is considered a medical condition.
There are three eye drops I use daily one of which is not covered by insurance. My Dr. is sensitive to this dilemma and offers savings coupons and discount cards to purchase it for less than $60. Otherwise, the prescription costs roughly $240.
Keratoconus & Business Ownership
Fast forward three years later, my eyes are still healing and progressing well. I go to my annual eye doctor visits to Keratoconus specialist. During my last visit, I asked if owning a business and being a writer would affect the healing process. My Dr replied, no that I’d be fine.
I find in business ownership and writing that breaks are necessary. One side effect of the CXL procedure includes severe dry eyes. Part of business duties for clients includes market research, web content, and writing other materials. Business owners, content writing in particular, stay glued to their computers and phones for hours.
Usually, I’ll dim the light on my iMac and Macbook. This helps a lot, too.
If you’re a business owner who has an eye condition or dry eyes, I’m sure you’re using some kind of drops for to maintain moisture. I highly suggest using drops that have a thicker consistency than Visine. Consider using Systane Ultra during the day and their gel drops night time.
Originally, my Dr. advised using these drops hourly. To help me remember (because business life keeps most of your attention and focus), I take advantage of when my iWatch tells me, “It’s time to stand!” Right before obeying this nudge, I put one drop in each eye.
Overall, the best remedy to cope with Keratoconus is to be open to loved ones. Try not to hide it.
There will be days full of frustrations. When this happens, take a break from everything and rest your eyes.
Look for other ways to enjoy life, like walking in parks, listening to music or audible books. Once the eyes receive rest, you will feel recharged enough to live regularly and continue with business as usual.