Bobsled driver, Steve Holcomb, had a recent fight with Keratoconus – his story is one that is still radiating throughout the world. His story is one that sheds hope and light on patients with Keratoconus, as well as those not yet diagnosed. Steve Holcomb’s dreams of gaining a Gold Medal were almost brought to a screeching halt due to his severe and progressing condition, Keratoconus.
Keratoconus is a progressive condition that gradually takes away the sight of the patient. But unfortunately Steve learned this fact the hard way. His love for the bob sled was almost stopped by this frustrating and painful condition.
His care for his team mates prompted him to make the hardest decision he ever had to make, the decision to retire from the sport he loved so much. His team mates were saddened by this decisions and refused to give up on him.
In one last effort to restore his sight, Steve’s team doctor researched treatments for keratoconus and decided to send him to Dr. Brian S. Boxer Wachler. Steve learned about a new treatment that maybe able to restore his vision. With a bit of hope and in the hands of Dr. Brian, Steve received the C3-R ® or Collagen Cross-linking with Riboflavin a non-invasive procedure that strengthens and stabilizes the cornea.
The procedure only takes about 30 minutes and is done in the doctors office. The procedure involves placing drops of Riboflavin on the cornea and using a UV light to activate the medication. The drops help strengthen and stabilize the effects of Keratoconus.
About 3 months following Dr. Boxer-Wachler implanted the Visian ICL which corrected his Myopia. The success of the procedures prompted Steve to come out of retirement and go forward to win a Gold Medal for the US which hadn’t been done for 62 years! True teamwork and the help of the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute aided in an event that will forever be in the history of America for years to come.
The C3-R ® procedure is now named for Steven titled “Holcomb C3-R ®” another first for the history of medicine for a procedure to be named after a Gold Medalist. True inspiration for all who suffer from this debilitating condition.
It has been an immensely rewarding to have been a part of the Olympic experience.I am so happy to have helped an individual with as much talent and honor as Steve.It is amazing to think that only a year ago, he was legally blind and facing an early retirement from his bobsled career.Luckily, after undergoing the C3-R procedure his vision is clearer than ever, and he’s ready to win Olympic gold!
Only two more days until Steve will take the track towards Olympic Gold on February 25th. Tonight I am packing my bags to head up to Vancouver on Wednesday.
To hear more about Steve’s story visit read an article on EyeWorld.com
This year in January Steven Holcomb had undergone a vision correction treatment that restored is vision. With his uncanny talent in bobsledding few knew of the troubles Steve suffered out there on the track. However his sight had become such a problem the extraordinarily talented athlete thought of throwing in the towel and retiring. In one last effort to help himself a few organizations pitched in an assisted the athlete in getting the experimental procedures done. His response to the procedures?
Quote from USA Today:
“I could instantly see clearly. It’s an amazing feeling”
– Says a pleased Steve Holcomb
Now with the 2010 games coming up the athlete is back and stronger than ever. Holcomb entered the Bobsled World Championships on Friday in New York. His vision is almost perfect a far cry from his vision early last year at 20/1000 which for those of you that don’t know is quite poor -noted by doctors as profoundly poor in fact.
In further quotes Steve Holcomb states:
“Its life in high-definition”
His team was not aware of how bad Holcomb’s vision was until recently but says that he worked more off instinct than vision anyway. And Steve is more confident and amped about his vision than ever, no longer worrying about the constant hassle of his contacts and view life in a whole new way…as for the 2010 games will just have to wait and see!
When I started college I was an Ocean Lifeguard. At school, I found it harder to focus on textbooks. I thought it was just the chlorine from the pool. I had my eyes checked and I was diagnosed with astigmatism in one eye and I started wearing glasses while studying. As lifeguarding became my chosen profession, I found it hard to focus in the afternoon as the Southern California sun set lower in the sky.
When running out for a rescue, I would often lose my prescription sunglasses. I tried soft lenses, but sand got under them and that was uncomfortable. The lenses often slid up behind my eyes and even floated away when I swam. I often went without correction because of the irritation. By late afternoon I would see double images of objects far away, such as a boat on the horizon.
When laser eye surgery became available, I was excited. However, I was discouraged to learn that I had keratoconus in one eye and was not a candidate for LASIK. I came across an article and some studies by Dr. Boxer Wachler. I was optimistic after my first meeting with him in 1999. He explained a new procedure Intacs that would help correct my keratoconus and vision. Back then Intacs had not been reported on a patient with keratoconus in the United States, but he felt it was ready to be attempted. As I was a good candidate, I welcomed the opportunity.A week after surgery, the vision in that eye improved to a great degree. I was able to see nearly equally with both eyes and it was unnecessary to wear glasses or contacts at work. After a few months I noticed that I was relying more and more on the corrected eye!
It has now been about eight years since I had Intacs and I still do not wear corrective lenses. I am able to pick objects out of the glare on the horizon and street signs on the freeway well before I need to turn. The freedom I have gained and the confidence I now have in my vision has proven invaluable to me and my ability to continue in my profession.
The ability to see well in lifeguarding is critical, and I no longer have the worry that I might miss something that could result in someone’s pain, suffering or their life. I owe this self assuredness to Dr. Boxer Wachler and to Intacs.
I feel fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time in history. I can appreciate the saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I am glad that my pioneering experience helped pave the way for the thousands of other patients who have subsequently benefited from innovative advancements for keratoconus. I am pleased to dedicate this book to the thousands of future patients who will benefit from these innovations.
Bobsledder- Steven Holcomb has a lot to say in this article from USA Today Written by Tim Reynolds…
Bobsledder Steven Holcomb was speeding down the icy track for a preseason training run a few weeks ago, when a piece of duct tape tore off the chassis and whizzed past his helmet. His teammates weren’t bothered. They’d seen it happen dozens of times. Holcomb, though, was spooked. Until then, he’d never seen that before.
In a sport that demands razor-sharp hand-eye coordination, Holcomb excels even with a degenerative eye disease called keratoconus that makes reading a challenge – say nothing for steering a bobsled in a snowstorm. “Sometimes, I really didn’t see all that much out there,” he said.
Given his success, that’s hard to believe. Holcomb is a national champion, a World Cup star and was the top American driver at the 2006 Turin games. He navigates slippery tracks at 80 mph in a sport where tiny mistakes can lead to disaster. Yet he did all that with vision so blurry that he couldn’t read the big “E” atop an eye chart from more than 6 feet away. A $15,000 procedure may have saved Holcomb’s vision – plus could nudge him closer to gold in Vancouver in 2010.
“If he was in the top five in the world before, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s soon to be the top in the world,” said Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler of Beverly Hills, Calif., the corneal surgeon who developed the procedure that Holcomb underwent, Holcomb would love to see that.
Keratoconus causes the cornea to bulge outward, causing blurred vision. In some mild cases, glasses or contacts can be the answer. In Holcomb’s case, neither did the trick. Lasik didn’t work, either; Holcomb tried that in 2000, but was back in glasses within a year. So after last season, he decided he’d either find a solution or retire.
“They couldn’t make contacts strong enough for me anymore,” Holcomb said. “And since it’s a progressive disease, I had to get a new prescription, a stronger prescription, every three months. Finally they said, ‘You know, we can’t make them any stronger.’ So it was the end. For a while, I thought it was the end.”
U.S. bobsled coach Brian Shimer didn’t want to see that happen. He researched options, found Boxer Wachler, and sent Holcomb to California to meet the doctor. Holcomb was deemed a candidate for Visian ICL, or Implantable Collamer Lens, a 9-minute surgery where a contact is embedded behind the iris. It’s permanent, and so far, it’s worked for Holcomb.
His vision, once as bad as 20-1000 – which gets defined as “profound visual impairment” – is now close to perfect. He sees things on tracks that he never knew were there before.
“I was part of the FDA approval study for it,” Holcomb said. “I couldn’t wear contacts the day of the surgery, so they literally had to walk me around the room. And then they did it, I got up, and just like that, I was 20-20. It’s incredible. I call it an eye-opening experience.” Pun intended, of course.
Holcomb didn’t just suffer from keratoconus, but also was extremely nearsighted. So Boxer Wachler – who has performed similar procedures before live on national television, plus has worked with other athletes, most notably Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Derek Fisher – began the process by having Holcomb undergo what’s called C3-R, something that strengthens the anchors within the cornea and minimizes the bulging effect.
It’s relatively new technology and isn’t offered by many eye doctors yet. Boxer Wachler is considered the pioneer in this sort of work. “We’ve been doing this for five years,”Boxer Wachler said. “It’s not experimental for us. We call it an off-label procedure.”
But because of the costs involved, Holcomb almost decided not to undergo any procedure. Holcomb isn’t a rich man, by any stretch of the imagination. Bobsledders don’t get into their sport for money; it’s rare to find a sled that turns a profit at the end of a season, no matter how many races a team wins in a given year. The technology is costly, the perks are few, and when Holcomb was told how much Visian ICL would cost, he initially balked at going forward.
“It was every amount of prize money I’d ever won,” Holcomb said. “So the U.S. Bobsled Federation stepped up and donated and now I hope they can collect on it.” That shouldn’t be a problem.
When the World Cup season starts in Germany in a few weeks, Holcomb will be among the favorites once again. He ended last season ranked fourth among drivers in two- and four-man bobsled, and now with his vision no longer a stressful issue, he can’t see any reason why he shouldn’t improve on the track.
“Now that I can see, things are starting to click,” Holcomb said. “I already could feel out there on the track. It’s like putting a face to a name now. My eyes don’t hurt. My head doesn’t hurt. Before, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even play catch before. Someone would throw me something and it’d hit me in the face. Now I can focus on what’s important out there.”
Catherine has struggled for many years with the deterioration of her vision. As most Keratoconus patients do she has had a number of different corrective eye wear including Hard contacts which are many times difficult to handle creating irritation to the eyes, pain and discomfort – to having soft contacts that still don’t provide her with adequate vision.
Catherine started wearing the Hard contacts as a teen has suffered still with the problems of vision disturbances. Her Keratoconus had created a haze over things she saw making it difficult to see clear enough to make turns and walk down and up stairways while walking. Sometimes getting help with walking from her teenage children.
Catherine has gone to several ophthalmologists over the years. Receiving the same answer “We don’t know how to improve your vision.” Some requested she get a cornea transplant that even see considered but doctors were hesitant to perform. Recently Catherine did a search on treatments for Keratoconus and found Dr. Boxer Wachler.
She discovered that there were treatments that could help her with her severe nearsightedness and progressive Keratoconus. She immediately had an evaluation. Dr. Boxer Wachler performed 3 Treatments on Catherine’s eyes giving her remarkable results. In just 24 hours she stated:
“For the first time in my life ever I can see things Clear”
Catherine is walking down the stairs without fear of falling, bending corners, and has the freedom of living a normal life again. Although see still wears glasses Catherine is very grateful for the procedures she received and to Dr. Boxer Wachler who gave her what see always dreamed…vision.
The procedures performed on Catherine where Intacs, C3-R®, and CK. These procedures can stop the progression of Keratoconus and help reverse the damage of Keratoconus on the eyes. Catherine had severe damage to her eyes so she still will need corrective lenses but her vision has improved drastically. The procedure affects each patient differently depending on the severity of the Keratoconus.
Many of us deal with anxiety when it comes to our eyes. The patients at Boxer Wachler Vision Institute are no exception. The key is all in how they are treated. There is a big difference in with treatment of patients at Boxer Wachler Vision Institute and other vision centers.
Meet Dorothy McDonald a registered nurse who has had to use reading glasses for the better part of her life. She is an avid reader of her local newspaper as stated she was tired of reading it with her glasses and was ready for a change.
Deciding to get vision corrective surgery is not a decision to take lightly. However she decided it was time. Dorothy decided to have CK followed by C3-R in both eyes despite her concerns and anxiety. She shares that she enjoyed the presence of staff in the room with her and listening to their voices.
She had an “Anxiety Free” experience with the CK. However during her C3-R procedures Dorothy did experience some anxiety and the staff aided her by holding her hand, talking her through the procedure and with some medication to help her through.
Dorothy stated in an interview 24 hours after the procedure-
“I woke up this morning to read the newspaper for the first time in 5 years without my glasses.”
While her procedures went well Dorothy tells anyone who is tired of wearing glasses to read to try the procedure. She says it is painless and a wonderful decision! For many of us we fight with the decision to have procedures done; especially if they are new. However the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute offers a caring and expert staff that go above and beyond to meet your needs-Just ask Dorothy!
Steve Zier was diagnosed with mild Keratoconus. In many states doctors feel it is difficult to work on patients with Keratoconus some don’t try, others do with complications. In Steve’s case it was difficult to locate a doctor that would attempt it due to his condition.
“None of the other surgeons would touch me with a 10 foot pole” He said sounding a bit frustrated.
Searching the Internet as so many of us do Steve happened upon Dr. Boxer Wachler and decided to give him a try.
Steve was pleased with the incredible service that the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute had to offer.
“The service was great from the receptionist to the doctors” he said.
Steve Zier had a PRK treatment and C3-R directly afterwards. His total procedure time was less than one hour. Steve reports that he was a little sore afterwards but didn’t need any pain relievers. Additionally his vision was a bit blurry but cleared up within a week. Now he it is four weeks later and he is amazed at the results. Steve had 20/200 vision in the right eye- after treatment 20/20
Right eye- Before procedure 20/200
Right eye- After Procedure 20/20
Left eye-Before Procedure 20/60
Left eye- After Procedure 20/40
Steve says he only needs a soft contact in one eye now to help him see. His Keratoconus is currently stable and his new quality of vision is great “It was worth every penny!” he says.
Our blog is designed not only to give you medical advice- and information on treating eye conditions but give you testimonials to what we are saying. The truth of the matter is that not only is it important for the surgeon to have knowledge of the treatments available but have first hand experience as well.
Though we have not walked a mile in your shoes there are certainly many who have. Meet Margret Puchjoe- Recently a patient at Boxer Wachler Vision Institute Margret has a real story to tell. Margret was treated with Lasik in 2002 on the East coast and experienced many complications. The surgeons treating her could not give her an accurate diagnosis and disturbingly enough would not answer her many questions.
She then followed up with 2 corrective procedures in the left eye and 1 in the right eye in a 6 month time span. After which her vision improved for some 4 years. Recently she has experienced some disturbing complications. She has had distorted vision- the inability to read comfortably or focus on an image. After exhausting all her possibilities on the East coast Margret found Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler.
Margret says:“ They got me in right away, I saw Dr. boxer Wachler on a Monday and he gave me options.”Margret has currently undergone C3R. Or Corneal Collagen Crosslinking with Riboflavin. This procedure involves the application of drops on the epithelium, The drops are then activated by exposure to UV lights for about 30 minutes. The procedure is virtually painless and can slow down or stop the progression of Keratoconus.
Margret is very pleased with her services and has hope for a great recovery. Although it will take a few months for the full effectiveness of the procedure to kick in she has a positive new light she didn’t have before. We will keep you updated on her progression.