STORY SHARED from The Ureiqn Project
40 minutes past 9am, we’re still waiting for the ophthalmologist. The line is getting longer and the magazines on the lounge are getting less interesting. It’s been weeks since the first time I’ve been having these headaches and I think it’s my eyes. I’m having astigmatism every time I open eyes. Even though I just stare in a blank space, headaches occur and bad things start to happen.
I filed a leave just to attend my appointment with the eye doctor; I can’t take the “eye-gony” anymore. It’s now or never. Well, enough with drama, the doctor came while all of his spectators were hooked at the Tournament scene of “The Kung fu Kid”. After 2-3 patients, it’s my turn for them to check my eyes. They even asked for my eyeglasses and measured it with high end technology. Then they tested my vision with their electronic version of that infamous chart that features the big letter E.
During the test he asked several questions like my allergies, previous sickness, dizziness and when I started wearing glasses. After few minutes he came up with a diagnosis : KERATOCONUS. Dr. Tim anticipated that I will answer him “okay” and a smile and gist of curiosity in my eyes.
He wrote that word on a piece of paper then handed it to me; “Google it para matakot ka ha”, then he explained that the maximum vision of an eyeglass is up to 300 and my eye requires 475 which is way higher. In conclusion glasses can’t help me this time. “At this point, I must say you’re considered as disabled” He was not kidding. Then he wrote his diagnosis on a med cert and instructed me to go to my medical insurance company to inquire if they can cover this certain procedure, “Hope I was wrong but just to make sure we have to perform further tests” . After 30 mins, I went back to Lasik Surgery Clinic and handed out the form that will allow me to undergo such procedure.
The procedure is called “Corneal Topography”; and with a little help from Wikipedia, let me explain it;
Corneal topography, also known as photokeratoscopy or videokeratography, is a non-invasive medical imaging technique for mapping the surface curvature of the cornea, the outer structure of the eye. Since the cornea is normally responsible for some 70% of the eye’s refractive power, its topography is of critical importance in determining the quality of vision.
The three-dimensional map is therefore a valuable aid to the examining ophthalmologist or optometrist and can assist in the diagnosis and treatment of a number of conditions; in planning refractive surgery such as LASIK and evaluation of its results; or in assessing the fit of contact lenses. A development of keratoscopy, corneal topography extends the measurement range from the four points a few millimeters apart that is offered by keratometry to a grid of thousands of points covering the entire cornea. The procedure is carried out in seconds and is completely painless.
After an hour of eavesdropping to other patients’ alta de siodad [did I got it right?] themed conversation, Dr. Tim called me at last. He still have that friendly smile despite of the result he has on his hands. “Tama ang hinala ko; it’s confirmed, you have KERATOCONUS”
He explained it in layman terms and I easily understood my situation. I asked some questions about it and I know he knows that within me is a withering soul, all I can do is smile back on his every answer and let him know that I understand the whole thing by some little facial expressions and gestures.
What is Keratoconus? What are the cause and effects? Too many questions for him to answer so I decided to reserve it for further research. I spent almost 5 hours scanning the net about this irregularity and here’s what I found:
Keratoconus (from Greek: kerato- horn, cornea; and konos cone), is a degenerative disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than its normal gradual curve.
Keratoconus can cause substantial distortion of vision, with multiple images, streaking and sensitivity to light all often reported by the patient.
In my case, my corneal topography shows that my corneas are both pointed shape and it’s centre is located on the [almost] bottom part of my pupil . Imagine the centre of the cornea is the one responsible for picking up the light . The regular curved shaped corneas will pick up light and directly send it to the centre of the pupil, making them see clearly due to regular pick up and distribution of light. Thus, my pointed shaped corneas pick up a subtle amount of light because the centre of the cornea that picks up the light is located on bottom part of the pupil.
My Corneal Topography result : LEFT : is the actual scan of my right eye. RIGHT : topographical version, it shows that my cornea is pointed, and the red parts of my pupil shows the centre of my corneas. It means it’s not on the centre of my pupil thus my eyes can’t pick up white light in a normal way.
Keratoconus affects around one person in 2 thousand. It seems to occur in populations throughout the world, although it occurs more frequently in certain ethnic groups. The exact cause of keratoconus is uncertain, but has been associated with detrimental enzyme activity within the cornea. A genetic link seems likely, as the incidence rate is greater if a family member has been diagnosed. The progression of keratoconus is rapid in patients having Downs Syndrome.
So what’s in store for me? Expensive Procedures. Dr. Tim told me that Eyeglasses can’t correct it, either can’t be cured by Laser / LASIK treatment. This irregularity is progressive and Dr. Tim warned me that I could be severely visually impaired over time and if that happened, only a cornea transplant will retain my vision. The only solution for now is having my eyes measured and creating special contact lenses that will hug my pointed corneas. The contacts will serve as my new normal corneas that will allow light pass through to the centre of my eyes so I’ll be able to see things clearly and he knows a few who can do that procedure. It’ll be costly for sure and unfortunately my med insurance company can’t cover it.
It’s so ironic that the one I need the most is the thing that will taken away from me one of these days. I learned to love sketching, films, animation, reading, writing, photography, shoot videos and edit them and anything that related to visual arts and literature. I fear that I have to learn to let them go, feel uninterested and live life in the abyss of darkness. Well, grunting can’t do anything. I have to find more ways on how to cure this one and stop its progression. This calls for a further research, perhaps into corneal cross linking. Have to wake up the geek in me. I’m scared.
So that’s for now. More prayers for me I guess. I’m worried. So Till then and Godspeed!
VALENTINO NOOL JR
Currently studying at Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Bachelor in Broadcast Communication
Valentino refers to himself as a kid who is a conspiracy theorist by heart, and a blogger when in trance. As of late he has been trying to pursue his interests in photography, cooking, beat-box, and ventriloquism. http://amherstureiqn.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/im-legally-disabled-an-awareness-on-keratoconus/