There are five main senses, all of which work together to allow the body to “sense” the surrounding world. All of these senses send information to the brain. In turn, the brain interprets the information as needed. Although all of these senses are important, eyesight stands out as the most important.
What Makes Sight Possible?
There are many factors that work together to make sight possible. Although different muscles and nerves are needed to send images, the main organs dedicated to this sense are the brain and the eye itself. Without one of these vital parts, the world around us would be dark.
The eye is considered one of the most complex parts of the body. This is due to all of the different parts of the organ, numbering in the billions. This organ is held in place by the surrounding muscles, which also serve to move the eye as needed. Images are seen by the eye and projected towards the retina. The retina then converts the images into electrical impulses that can travel through the optic nerve to the brain.
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For those with Keratoconus daily activities can be difficult. Keratoconus is a progressive condition that causes the cornea of the eye to become irregular and bulge out instead of circular. Over time the irregular shape causes distortions in the vision field making it harder for the patient to see. However there are several new advancements in technology that allow the patients vision to become more clear. Below is one that is changing the lives of thousands each day.
The Holcomb C3-R ®
(Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking With Riboflavin)
For those of you who are unclear what the Holcomb C3-R ® is here is a quick tutorial. For those of you who have Keratoconus the Holcomb C-3 R ® is a treatment that uses a special solution that contains a vitamin that our body makes. The solution is placed by a dropper in the eye of the patient and then activated with UV lights. This process takes about 30 minutes in your doctors office.
Over a period of months after the treatment the cornea strengthens, providing the patient with more stable vision. As the cornea strengthens it can reshape and this helps reduce some of the visual distortions. Most importantly this treatment helps reduce the chance of further progression.
There have been thousands who have received this procedure and all of them have had peace of mind that their vision is now stable. Generally the treatment is only needed one time, however some have needed two. It will stabilize the condition and in some cases it has reversed some of the damage of Keratoconus.
Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler, MD is a renowned eye surgeon specializing in Keratoconus Treatments, and other procedures. For more information on Keratoconus treatments visit www.FixesYourKC.com
Astigmatism is a condition that hundreds of thousands of people face each year. Astigmatism is when the eye is no longer shaped like a sphere and has changed to more like a football. This causes distorted or blurred vision.
Astigmatism can be corrected relatively quickly; there are some basic tests that need to be done to measure the amount of astigmatism one suffers from. Astigmatism is determined by the curvature of the cornea. A patient with astigmatism goes through several tests to not only diagnose the condition but to determine the best course of treatment for the degree of astigmatism the patient suffers.
Tests for Astigmatism:
Standard Vision Chart-
The eye care professional may use a standard vision chart to determine the degree of visual correction is needed. The chart determines how well you can see at a 20 feet distance.
The phoropter or lens machine is used to measure the prescription that is needed. They use the corrective lenses inside the machine to figure out what refraction distance you need for each eye. Sometimes the doctor will use what is called a retinoscope or a hand-held device to measure the prescription more accurately.
The Keratometer is used to measure the steepest and flattest areas of the cornea to tell how much of the vision is affected by the astigmatism. This meter is also used after corrective surgeries to measure how much of the vision has been corrected.
A Topography is a colorized map of the cornea. This can help your doctor determine if you have regular or irregular astigmatism. If you have irregular astigmatism your doctor will need to rule out this is not an early indicator of Keratoconus. Keratoconus is a degenerative condition of the cornea that causes a severe distortion of the cornea shape. Irregular astigmatism can be an early indicator of this condition. When detected early, patients can usually undergo a 30 minute treatment called Holcomb C3-R ® (Cornea Collagen Crosslinking with Riboflavin) that will prevent progressive ision changes.
The frequency of keratoconus in first degree relatives having the disease is much higher than the general population. Keratoconus can also be associated with other systemic syndromes such as Down’s syndrome.
The good news is that keratoconus is often not passed to children. If you have or may have children in the future, it’s only a 6% likelihood that any of your children will inherit keratoconus.
It makes sense to have your children have a baseline corneal topography between ages of 8-10 years old and have a topography every year. The subsequent topography maps can be compared to the first one to catch keratoconus early if it will be occurring. Early keratoconus can easily be “nipped in the bud” with a C3-R® treatment before it gets worse.
“It seems that both environment and genetics play a role in Keratoconus”
-Says Dr. Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD.
All corneas, like any tissues in the body, create harmful byproducts (free radicals) of cell metabolism (metabolism is a fancy word for the activities of the cell required for it to live and do it’s thing). These byproducts are similar to a car’s exhaust that results from the car being driven. Normal corneas, like any other body tissue, have a defense system in place to neutralize the free radicals so they don’t damage the collagen.
The collagen is the equivalent of steel beams that support a building. Damage to those beams causes the building to tilt, just like damage to the collagen causes the cornea to bulge. Think of those free radicals as attacking your collagen fibers in the cornea, trying to thin it and weaken it.
The problem with keratoconus is that anti-free radical system in the cornea (called anti-oxidants) are not properly working, so the free radicals are allowed to overwhelm and wreak havoc on the collagen fibers. They bombard the cornea like mortar fire blasting into a brick wall. The free radicals damage the cornea, thin it, and ultimately allow it to bulge and steepen out. This is how your vision got worse from keratoconus.
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.