The need for a corneal transplant can strike any one at any age – whether it’s due to an ocular disease, disorder or injury. For 38 year-old Robert, his problem began in his late teens.
For 20 years, Robert suffered from kerataconus, a disorder which causes the dome-shaped cornea to distort into a cone shape, significantly affecting one’s vision. As is the case for many keratoconus sufferers, the disorder hit early in Robert’s life and progressed as he grew older.
Robert wore contact lenses to correct the problem and faced no trouble handling his day-to-day activities. “The vision problems were slow and gradual,” he remarked. “I pretty much got used to them.” However, by the time Robert entered his late thirties, his eyesight deteriorated to the point his eye surgeon recommended a corneal transplant to correct vision in his most seriously affected eye. In November 2009, Robert underwent surgery to transplant eye tissue from a 40-year-old eye donor.
“I went to Dr. Timothy Cavanaugh at Cavanaugh Eye Center who is just amazing. The first day or two of recovery was uncomfortable, but since then, my eyesight has significantly improved. It’s not 20/20, but I can see a lot better. It makes a huge difference in my life.”
Now when Robert sees a blue car, he no longer sees just a “blue blob,” but can instead easily identify the make and model. He has no trouble reading labels and has noticed his peripheral vision is considerably better. Robert enjoys playing poker with his friends, and can’t wait for the spring to see how his new eyesight will improve his softball and golf games.
Most important, thanks to the generosity of his eye donor, Robert’s new vision has made the time he spends with his one-year-old son even more special. “Every day my vision is getting better. I’m looking forward to playing soccer with my son when he gets older. Because of my new cornea, I’ll be able to watch him and coach him. When that happens, I’ll continue to think of the person who was gracious enough to donate their eyes to me.”
Although Robert has long been a supporter of donation, his own experience has increased his drive in promoting eye, organ and tissue donation. “I would encourage everybody to register as tissue donors for sure. Being able to see has added so much to my life. It’s such an amazing gift. My eye transplant was one thing – it’s hard to even fathom the difference it would make for people waiting for organ transplants. What an impact donation has on their lives!”
Visit the Saving Sight website to learn more about eye donation and how to become an eye, organ and tissue donor.