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Category Archives: Surgery-Story

Posts specifically about my surgery

Little Things: Glasses after Corneal Transplant (That Work!)


oakley

A short post today.  With the sutures coming out slowly over time, it’s always been my choice to put off getting a new eyeglasses prescription.

With lenses being so expensive, and insurance limitations, it hardly made sense to pay for a new left lens every few months as my vision (astigmatism) was altered by the process.  I was already tweaking expensive contacts to follow the “suture roulette”, so I chose to hold off on the glasses.

Well, with all sutures out and a month of stabilization, I’ve finally got new lenses for my Oakley glasses.  It’s amazing to have spectacles that correct nearly as well as my contacts – and liberating.  I can now feel more confident on driving holidays where I might find myself at the wheel longer than my lens wear time allows.  And I can easily drive should a mid-night emergency happen.

Scott Clark

With allergies wreaking havoc on both eyes this Fall, I may choose to wear the glasses more often, allowing me to use eye drop antihistamines anytime I need them, avoiding the drowsiness that comes with their oral equivalent.

I cannot remember when I last had glasses that worked so well – but I’d guess it’s been nearly 15 years.

So, yet another little thing that the DALK surgery has brought me, more than two years later.

 

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DALK Transplant – Stellar Follow Up + New Soft Lens Trial

photo: Logan Ingalls

Well, it’s been a good week for my DALK recovery.  I went back to Dr. Holland for my graft checkup and he said it was perfect.  I also corrected to 20/20 on their refraction gear.  I had already ordered a new, special soft contact (see last post) and was not able to take it with me to Dr. Holland.  He wasn’t bothered by that and said that if the soft lens worked for me, it would be fine for my eye.

The downside to the soft lens (at least the first one I tried) is it corrected me only slightly better than 20/30.  This means there is room for improvement.  But the comfort is … amazing!   The fitter (Tamra at Dr. Koffler’s office here in Lexington) seems to think that I should wear it for a week and then we may want to correct the power to hit near 20/20.

Other questions answered:

  • Sutures:  We’ll take them out if they degrade.  Otherwise, he said, leave them in for now.
  • Graft Fragility:  I had lots of anxiety about the graft’s fragility, but Dr. Holland told me to quit worrying.  It would take a severe trauma to disturb the graft now that it’s healed up.
  • Rejection Period:  I’m exiting the prime rejection period for DALK.
  • Glasses:  Dr. Holland said to go ahead and make the lenses for glasses.
  • PRK/Lasik is still an option if we cannot make contacts work.   Insurance won’t pay for that in KY (or OH.)
  • If we run into suture issues (e.g. one breaks) we will remove them all at once.
  • He said it was right to stop wearing the RGPs if they were hurting.  He said I should be pain free and use whatever gives that to me.

Exciting!

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Dr. Visits, Recovery, Surgery-Story

 

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New Lens In!!!! Binocular Vision! The World is in 3D Now!

Everthing was in 3-d today!

A very big day on this long journey.  Today, I inserted the mini-scleral lenses in my grafted eye at Dr. Koffler’s office…and, for the first time in 15+ years, I had clear vision in my left eye.  My brain and eye muscles are not sure what to do with the new information so the crispness came and went, but here are my unfiltered first impressions:

  • Wow.  I can read the doctor’s diploma across the room.
  • The world is sparkly!
  • Everything’s in 3D!
  • Look at the birds!
  • Look at the clouds!!!
  • I don’t want to take this out!

I was only at a 3-hour wear limit today, so pulled them out mid-morning.  I’m looking forward to inserting them again tomorrow.

The removal was touch and go because I’m out of practice, and the eye is just slighly “dry-sore” tonight.  Nothing bad at all.  Totally expected.

I got a ‘care package’ with new plungers and other solutions, etc from the office.

NEXT UP!!!

Postscript:  Day 2, 3 of lens were tricky.  Eye was a bit sore from lens and insertion / removal was difficult.  I’m clearly out of practice on this.  Still feel a lot of anxiety about damaging my graft with lens effort.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Recovery, Surgery-Story, Vision Improvements

 

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New – DALK Transplant Chronology

Quick post to let you know that I just made a new page which covers the chronology from my first Dr. appt to one year after the surgery.  Same posts, but in chronological order.

http://corneanews.com/about-kerataconus/chronology/

 

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DALK Transplant – One Year On

photo by Celia Clark

March 9th is the anniversary of my DALK transplant in my left eye, the subject of this blog.  I’m posting a bit early as I have a few moments.  As of one year, I am thrilled that I had the surgery – and forever grateful to the donor and their family.  I’m certain that the posts will slow down now unless I have good reason to post – changes, vision, etc. but I want to thank you for being a part of my story.  I will still monitor for comments and do my best to offer a layperson’s response.  When reading the story – try to go back in time and read the older posts first.

I will be returning to Dr. Holland in a month or so, and I think he’ll be asking me if I was fitted for contacts.  Thus far, I have not built the courage to put anything on my grafted eye.  Soon I will.  I am going to get a new glasses prescription first from my regular eye doctor.  It will be amazing to be able to see with glasses, and I’m thinking that will prompt me to move forward with a RGP lens (Dr. Holland’s recommendation.)  I’m in the primary rejection period for DALK – so am extra vigilant for the RSVP symptoms.  So far, all’s well.

One little aside:

Sometimes we all just forget how precious life is.  How precious love is.  My DALK eye has not forgotten how to shed a tear.  I’m sure those tears are a combination of my own and the loved ones of the donor.  Take today and give someone in your life a hug or a thank you.  It’s easy.  Sign your donor card.  That’s easy, too.

I want to thank my wonderful wife Heather for all of her support, both before and after the surgery.  She was my crutch when I was in pain and always was there to give me the support that only a truly caring wife could give.  She was awake with me that night after surgery when I thought everything was going wrong.  We went on a date recently – at night – and I could see her clearly in the dim dinner light.  Candle fumes used to burn like fire.  Not this time.   I drove there and back – dark outside.  The eye didn’t even come into play.  It was just our date.  This is the combined gift of the donor and my good fortune for meeting her.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Diary Entries, Recovery, Surgery-Story

 

Tip for Corneal Suture Removal Antibiotics – Saving a few bucks

When you are in recovery from corneal transplant, your doctor will begin removing sutures – a few at a time each visit (providing everything is going well.)  Each time you leave you’ll be asked to drop antibiotics for 3-4 days several times per day.   A tiny amount, all in all.

The tip I have is this… ask the doctor or assistants if you can have a sample antibiotic (left by drug reps) rather than a prescription.  The samples have just the right number of drops for 4×3 or 3×3 and are meant to be given away for free.  This can save you the cost of the antibiotics and a trip to the drug store.   Even ask them to give you several bottles to be used on the subsequent visit (they have a decent shelf life.)

The doctors can get more, trust me.

This might save you $30-40 per visit.Antibiotics for Corneal Transplant Suture removal

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2011 in Surgery-Story, Tips

 

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Corneal Transplant Surgery – 8-month Follow Up – Steroids to Stop in 6 Weeks.

Post Corneal Transplant Topography 8 monthsToday I went in to Cincinnati Eye Institute for my 8-month follow up with Doctor Edward Holland.   The visit followed the same routine as before – corneal surface scan, vision check, pressure check, doctor chat, and suture removal.

My vision is not changed much – and the topography showed that my astigmatism has shifted axis, and Dr. Holland adjusted his suture removal strategy.  I had two sutures out today, which was quick and painless.   My eye pressure was in the normal range and my optic nerve looked just fine.   He told me not to worry about the eye pressure as long as the optic nerve looked good.

The only big news is that in 6 weeks, I’ll be stopping my steroid drops!  This is a bit early and reflects the fact that my cornea is “crystal clear.”   I’m to watch for inflamation around the graft, but none is expected.

I hate late morning appointments.  I left Lexington at 8:30 and wasn’t back until 2:30.  My next appt is at 7:55 AM.  I’ll probably be back in Lexington by 11:00.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Dr. Visits, Recovery, Surgery-Story

 

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DALK Checkup – A Few New Nuggets of Info

Lexington Farmer's Market

Well, today was a routine checkup.  Topography, pressure check, eye test.  Pretty much the same as the last time.  Dr. Holland removed two sutures as we continue “suture roulette.”   The graft looks great, and we’re right “on track.”

I did learn a couple of things today:

  • Peak rejection time is 8 months out from surgery.   This is for PK or DALK.  I thought it would be earlier.  This means that I must be extra diligent for RSVP symptoms between now and early next year.
  • The first sign of rejection will be redness and light sensitivity, not pain.   You should never wait for the pain if redness and pain are present.
  • When Restasis is part of your post-op drops routine, you should usually use it last.   So, for me, it’s Steroids, Pressure Med, then Restasis.
  • He suggested that I might go ahead and use Restasis in my right eye if allergies get bad again.  I think I’m through the worst of Fall allergies, however.
That’s it.
Learn more:
Oh, I really do appreciate all the messages I get about how much people are enjoying the blog.  Thanks much.
 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Dr. Visits, Surgery-Story

 

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Corneal Transplant Grafts and Autumn Allergies

Lexington, KY AllergyWell, I looked at my iPhone Allergy App today and it says 10 out of 12 “Very High” for ragweed pollen – my nemesis.   Lexington is the Allergy Capital of the USA (at least in Spring,) and ragweed is the worst.  I take a daily Zyrtec which helps a lot, but several weeks out of the year it’s overwhelmed by the environment.

One interesting thing I noticed this Fall (my first with a corneal graft) is that my grafted eye doesn’t itch.   My ungrafted eye is itching like crazy.  I’m guessing it’s the nerves on the eye making the difference?  Or something about the surface that is dispersing the allergen?   Whatever, it’s a real blessing.

No matter what, I will always avoid rubbing.  Even though my right eye is past the highest risk for developing Keratoconus (I’m age 45) I still know that my corneas have a genetic weakness somewhere in there.

Everything is going great otherwise.  I’ve had a few headaches and some throbbing on my left eye.  I’m hoping it’s not eye pressure but as of the last visit that was on its way down.  I have another appointment in a couple of weeks.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in Diary Entries, Surgery-Story

 

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5-month DALK Follow Up – 20/30 Corrected Vision – 5 sutures out!

Had a very good 5-month visit today where 5 sutures were removed.  We’re playing “suture roulette” now, chasing the astigmatism around my cornea.

My astigmatism went from 9 diopters to 4 diopters, which is excellent.  I’m now seeing 20/30 corrected!   The graft is also healing very well.  My steroidal dose was cut in half and my eye pressure is now stable/managed.

For the first time in 10+ years, when they adjusted the settings on the eye testing optics, I reached a 20/30 level of vision.  It used to be a pure blur.  They used to flip the lenses around and I’d say “same, same, same”…it never got better or worse.  But now, it’s like it should be.

Dr. Holland said if I was in a hurry, I could possibly get fit for contacts, but I’m going to wait and let the graft heal as long as possible.

It couldn’t have been a better visit.    Back in 8 weeks.

Roulette Wheel Photo by Photo: Heather Rai

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in Dr. Visits, Recovery, Surgery-Story

 

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