I have keratoconcus as well as meglacornea and since the age of 32 have had 11 surgeries on my eyes including transplants. The result was vision of around 20/200 until Dr Jeffery Sonsino patiently fitted me with scleral lenses. I am now around 20/40, not great but very adequate compared to what I was. This has been a life changing experience for me in vision improvement and comfort and I am so very thankful that I can once again live a near normal life.
Before using scleral lenses I was using both hard and soft contact lenses to correct my poor vision due to keratoconus. My eyes were blood shot, dry, and tired all the time. Then my cornea continued to get scratched due to the hard lenses. I was a full-time student at the time and was reluctant to attend class because it was so painful to put my lenses in and glasses were not much help. After being fitted with scleral lenses, the comfort of my lenses has improved dramatically and I can see better with these lenses as opposed to my hard lenses. The lenses help my dry eyes as well. When I wake up in the morning my eyes are always dry and red, but when I put the lenses in they actually clear up and feel better. Please, if you're having lens trouble, give these a shot!
Before a contact was given as an option, I had blurry vision in my right eye due to having shingles on my face and eye. The virus caused a scar on my cornea which caused the blurry vision. I had resigned myself to that vision, but when the scleral contact was fit my vision suddenly became clear. I’m not just satisfied with the scleral contact I’m grateful to be able to see clearly again. I had given up needlework and now I’m back at cross stitching and needlepoint- reading is pleasurable again.
I also appreciate the doctor taking the time to explain, teach and fit me with a lens that gives me a better view of the world around me.
"Things are going very well. I hardly even notice that they're there from one moment to the next. Of course, considering the issues that I've had with lenses in the past, perhaps that's the best thing I can say. Having had MANY years in soft lenses and then needing to move to hard lenses was very difficult for me. Finding these lenses at the time that we did was a real God send. I now have nearly 20/20 vision, and lenses that feel practically non existent to me once they're in. I've continued to be active in my karate with no issues. I don't have red, irritated eyes anymore. I love the fact that I can sit at my computer and not have to squint or lean into my computer to see what I'm working on. But I think that my favorite part of these lenses is that my eyes don't feel fatigued at the end of the day. I have continued to take my lenses out at least once during the day to clean off make-up residue that may get on there and to give my eyes a boost of moisture, that has also helped with the comfort and vision factor. Overall I have to say I've been thrilled with these lenses!!!"
“The lenses that I currently have, are the most comfortable lenses I have ever worn. I have always used a soft lens in the past, and have found them to be very uncomfortable. I was usually only able to wear them for 4 or 5 hours at a time before I would have to take them out of my irritated dry eyes. I have extremely dry eyes and have to use drops 10 to 12 times a day, plus I use prescription eye drops, Restasis, in the morning and evening. With these hard lenses, I only use drops 2 to 3 times a day, I forget I have them in most of the time, I easily wear them from 7:00am to Midnight. I have occasionally fallen asleep with them in, certainly not recommended, but I really do have to remind myself to take them out.”
Isaac Nold is a 12 year old boy, who enjoys Mickey Mouse, playing the Wii, being outside, and watching movies. He also has multiple disabilities- Deafness, Low vision, Cerebral Palsy, Moebius Syndrome and Trigeminal Trophic Syndrome.
When Isaac came into this world, things were really tough for the little guy. We were thrown onto one path after another- not knowing where it would lead us to. From dealing with the seizures, Feeding tubes, and more, we were scared not knowing what was going on. One of the unknown paths led us to the pursuit of the scleral lens.
When Isaac was a few months old, he went through the teething stage like every other infant typically does. The exception in his case was this led to the trauma of his lower lip- causing sores and blisters which then led to the splitting of the lower lip. We started seeing Doctor after Doctor when the sores began, trying to get an answer as to what happened and mainly, why he didn’t seem to cry as that’s got to hurt. While we were looking for a diagnosis, a few short months later he developed pink eye. He dealt with this in a unique way…by scratching and rubbing right on the surface of his eyes, changing the shape of his eyeball, and affecting the healing phase. Again, the lack of response to pain was really unsettling, frequent trips were made to different Doctors, and eventually he was diagnosed with Moebius Syndrome- which causes facial nerve paralysis.
Once the pink eye was over, it didn’t stop him from poking in his eyes, mostly his left eye. He would scratch them, put his fingers in the socket, poke at them, you name it, he did it. We noticed when the right eye was bothered, it would heal so fast. Not the case with his left eye. Around this time we also started to see the severity in the dryness of his eyes. When it was cold (we live in South Dakota and trust me, cold means *cold*), windy (again, typical South Dakota weather), dry... We had to restrict him from going outside because it would irritate his eyes. On those “red eye days”, he missed school. We couldn’t take the chance of anything happening to his eyes. Multiple visits were made to his Ophthalmologist, and each time, we left with yet a new prescription or a sample of drops, and in tears not knowing if this will work and what will happen. To a child who is Deaf, losing vision is scary and in this case, we really thought it would become a reality if this continued.
We tried different methods to protect his eye(s)- arm restraints – which was hard for us to do since he needed to move his arms to communicate using sign language, patching up the eye to prevent him traumatizing it further, ordered special sunglasses, regular glasses, purchasing numerous eye drops, creams, medications, antibiotics, surgically inserting tear duct tubes, to eventually stitching the left eye close for a few weeks in hopes that would help it recover (because at one point a hole had developed in the eyeball and there was a risk of an infection). All of this went over a course of a few years. And each time, his vision slowly got worse and changes were made to accommodate his vision. Over time, though, Isaac’s scarring on his corneas kept growing, the dryness and redness became worse, and his vision was progressing fast, so something needed to be done.
Spring of 2004 put us with Isaac’s surgery for his lip repair. A month after the operation, the surgery failed and the lip split open again. We went to Mayo and was given a rare diagnosis of Trigeminal Trophic Syndrome. What this means is there are no nerve endings in the left side of Isaac’s face. With this, things don’t heal, but patients always feel an itching, burning, or poking sensation which would lead to them traumatizing an affected area, and it also meant that Isaac feels no pain. This explains the difficulty we had with his eye. I asked about a corneal transplant for Isaac during this time, but with the lack of nerve endings and pain sensation, it was determined that it would not be an option.
I started to research what is out there for kids with dry eyes, and came across so many different solutions. In 2004, a coworker showed me the information on the Scleral Lens- after reading into it; we thought this could be the miracle Isaac needed. At that time, the only place I knew of that did this (and was told when I asked around) was in Boston. A call was made, Isaac’s Doctor sent a letter supporting the need and it was determined Isaac was a candidate for this. The catch was that we’d have to stay in Boston a few weeks at a time, with return visits needed. We weren’t sure if we wanted to do this, being away from family and honestly, we were convinced that there’s got to be someone else who did this around the Midwest.
One morning, I had an eye appointment for myself, and I decided to ask the Doctor I saw if he had heard of a scleral lens..and proceeded to tell him about Isaac. Lo and behold, the Doctor knew of someone at the University of Iowa who does this. He made the call, called me back that afternoon and said “She’ll see you.”, and gave me the number to call. We were so so excited!!!! We made our first trip in January of 2005. During the trip up, we were hopeful. Dr. Sindt had some samples, did her little thing with measuring his corneas, and put one on him. You could see instant relief in Isaac’s face. With the dye in the lens, it showed that the whole exposed surface of Isaac’s eyes was covered. The solution stayed in the lens, protecting the corneas and keeping them moisturized. It was really fascinating. We decided to have a pair ordered for Isaac. During this same appointment, it was shared with me that numerous Doctors specializing in eye care were highly reluctant in trying the scleral lens in pediatric patients and in fact, discouraged it. This appalled me. I honestly didn’t see any harm in pursuing this and am glad we did!
We came back a few weeks later when the Lens arrived. The most challenging thing about this appointment was me trying to get the lens on Isaac! Our appointment went for 4 hours. The poor guy tolerated his mother trying on the lenses on him; I even got to practice on some of the students and staff. They were so patient!!
Once I was able to get the lens on, we were sent on our way home. This time, the trip home was one of joy and hope.. Feelings we hadn’t felt in a long time. Isaac tolerated the lens- he loved it, could see better, and we could see he felt better. He was able to be outside even when it was windy, when it was cold, and every other weather in between. We didn’t have to do frequent eye drops (every 5 to 10 minutes) like we had to before. School staff noticed an improvement; other Physicians that he sees on a regular basis were amazed at how well his eyes were doing. One of the challenging things about raising a child with multiple disabilities- with various issues- especially in Isaac’s case, at that time, he was not able to tell us how he’s feeling. We felt that if the lens worked, he would leave them on. And boy did he!! And now he communicates to us when he wants them on, when he wants them off, and when he’s hurting.
Over time, his scarring has significantly decreased, to the point to where it is gone on his right cornea. On his left eye, we can actually now see past the scarring when we go in for follow up appointments. His vision as increased as well to the point to where a prescription is not needed. What a miracle!!! All because of his determined parents, a wonderful Doctor who said “we can do this”, these 2 little pieces of contact lens and a unique little boy.