So, on Thursday morning I’m scheduled to receive a replacement cornea at St James’ Hospital. This is both awesome – we can replace bits of me?! – and a little frightening – what if it doesn’t work? I’m in that strange place between extreme optimism and thinking it’s going to really improve my sight, and that “what if” voice. Around 3500 people had a corneal transplant last year, receiving a donated cornea.
I was diagnosed with Keratoconus about 8 years ago. I often describe it as extreme astigmatism; the eye goes from being normally curved to more pointed, which means light doesn’t refract properly and you can’t see. Because glasses are too far away and contact lenses just drape over the eye, they don’t help. You can get rigid plastic lenses but they are painful and, because of my pointiness’, were just intolerable. I did have a ring inserted into my eye last year to try to restretch the cornea, but that didn’t work. So, a corneal graft instead!
Day to day it started as short-sightedness but has become worse in recent years. I thought it’d be interesting to try to approximate what I see, so I can track the improvement too I guess. When I’m sitting straight (and I don’t think the importance of physical posture is talked about enough by teachers) this is an estimate of what I can see – a normal picture (camera), normal distance with both eyes – I tend to mark with my nose to the paper!, and right eye alone:
So no wonder the right one needs fixing! When I do the sight test with the right eye, I can usually see it’s there because it’s backlit so it’s a brighter space on the wall, but can’t see anything on it.
So, I’m hopeful it will improve things. I’m probably off work for three weeks, and then will have further appointments and follow ups for a year or so, which is also stressful. My department’s fantastic, and everyone’s supportive but still – I’m a bit of a control freak about my classes! Students have veered between really sweet and encouraging, and reassuring me they’ll work hard! – and asking what the other person will do without their cornea. Ummmmm. Some education to be done there, but I’ve also had some really important conversations about donations and how important is to be on the register. If you’re not on the register, please think about it. I hope you all live happy and healthy lives, but you can donate at any age – 15% of cornea donors are 80+