By Bracee Dudley
In my freshman year of high school, I was unfortunate enough to have scratched my right eye and create a corneal ulcer, which is an open sore in the outer layer of the cornea. Thanks to frequent visits to my local ophthalmologist, I obtained antibiotics and was soon able to see semi-comfortably again.
However, it was discovered that I had corneal scarring in both eyes, which left me with extreme photophobia (light sensitivity) and keratoconjunctivitis sicca (chronic dry eye). My symptoms included irritation, redness, a constant feeling of having something in my eyes, and major discomfort.
During school, light sensitivity (plus your usual high school sleep deprivation) would impact my attentiveness in class, especially during the earlier classes. I couldn’t see many PowerPoint slides, especially those with limited contrasting colors and small font.
In the morning I would wake up with “eye boogers” all around the lids and usually be picking them out of my eyes during classes. If I was extremely tired and my eyes were really bothering me, sleeping during class wasn’t out of the question. If I was awake, many times I had to physically move closer to the board to see anything. The excessive tearing of the eyes caused by irritation would also lead to an intensely runny nose, which I could even predict which class periods would flare up. It was terrible when the classroom lacked tissues. Somehow through all of the suffering, I was able to maintain a 3.0+ GPA at one of the top schools in the state of Indiana.
Although I had a high pain tolerance and kept the complaints to a minimum (at least during school), the symptoms of my eyes were definitely something to take action on. Seeing the local ophthalmologist every so often, my eyesight was sufficiently decreasing and I was increasingly going blind (a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s how it felt). Due to the dry eyes and scarred corneas affecting the state of vision, getting an accurate refraction to create a prescription for glasses was nearly impossible. Even seeing a corneal specialist in Indianapolis didn’t seem to help. The common refrain was, “I’m sorry, but we can’t do much about it”.
Finally, after receiving mail from the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias, my mom decided we should give the National Family Conference a chance in hopes of finding other options. When we arrived in Columbus, Ohio in July of 2014, my mom was very impressed with the welcoming atmosphere and the vast expanse of information available regarding any and all symptoms of the various types of ectodermal dysplasias. She and my father attended an informational session regarding dry eyes, dragged me along, and it was there we discovered PROSE.
BostonSight® PROSE (prosthetic replacement of the ocular surface ecosystem) is a large contact lens constructed out of gas-permeable plastic that allows oxygen to the eye. It is more concave than usual contact lenses, which allows for the lens to contain a reservoir of artificial tear drops/pure saline solution to lubricate and moisturize the eyes all throughout the day.
Could this be the solution to my painful, dry eyes?
TO BE CONTINUED…
Bracee Dudley is a high school senior who is affected by ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia-clefting syndrome (EEC). She is contributing this three-part series on how she learned about PROSE lenses and her journey to obtain them and find relief for her debilitating dry eyes.
Learn more about the BostonSight® PROSE at the Boston Foundation for Sight web page: https://www.bostonsight.org/PROSE-treatment/About-PROSE
Stay tuned to the blog for part two of Bracee’s story!
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