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Posts Tagged ‘Sharing Vision Grant’

Christian’s Keratoconus Story – “ClearKone Changed the Way I See Life”

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

My vision challenges began in junior high school when I started to wear glasses. Although my vision was fine at that time, things started to change when I entered high school. I began to notice that I wasn’t able to read the chalkboard. Even though I sat in the front row, I found it difficult and frustrating to read the teachers’ notes. I went back to my optometrist, who gave me another pair of glasses with a stronger prescription. Unfortunately, the new glasses only helped for a period of time. By the time I was in my junior year, my vision was a problem again. The new glasses no longer corrected my vision. I decided it was time to see a new optometrist. 

In my senior year of high school my new optometrist, Dr. Barry Leonard, diagnosed me with keratoconus. While I was glad to have found out the cause of my vision problems and learn that contact lenses could improve my eyesight, I could never have imagined the contradictions that came with contact lens wear. My doctor fit me in RGP lenses, which did improve my vision, but the lenses were so uncomfortable. My eyes were often irritated, so I would try to function without wearing the lenses. Unfortunately, my vision was so poor without them that I could not drive, see faces of friends at a distance, or read a book with small font. Keratoconus was truly affecting my daily activities!

Dr. Leonard then recommended that I try the ClearKone lens from SynergEyes. He explained that the rigid center would give me the visual acuity I needed, while the soft skirt would keep my eyes comfortable throughout the day. It sounded like a great option! As we began the fitting process, it was difficult for my lids to open wide enough for the lenses to be inserted. My eyes were so sensitive that my lids would close whenever the lens got near my eye. Thankfully, Dr. Leonard was very patient with me, and after many attempts, was able to insert the lenses.

Once I began wearing the lenses, I was amazed. My vision was clear and crisp, and the lenses were so comfortable that I could wear them all day long without irritation. It really was the best of both worlds!

I have now been wearing the lenses for several months, and my life has changed in so many ways. I can distinguish faces from a distance and see their expressions, which is so wonderful! I am also able to drive, use the computer, and read books with small font. I feel like I now have a normal life without the frustrations of poor vision. ClearKone lenses have truly changed the way I see life!

Melanie’s Keratoconus Story – “Life Inside an Impressionist Painting”

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010


ClearKone Sharing Vision Grant Recipient

Melanie's Keratoconus Story

I live inside an impressionist painting, where colors smear across the canvas and ghost images hover around any large object I can actually identify. At night, my world is ablaze with eight-pointed stars that spring from every source of light – headlights, streetlamps, neon signs and even candles on the altar at church. When I try to focus on your face, I see a double image of your features; your eyes and nose and mouth run together like melting wax. Like a blind person, I focus on your voice, your height and weight, and the way you move. I miss seeing you smile and roll your eyes and grimace – all the nuances that nurture communication. Because I can’t see you clearly, I often misunderstand. I’m a writer and graphic designer, but I can’t read the words on the monitor as I type them. I can’t read a letter or take legible notes when I talk on the phone. The more I enlarge the letters on my monitor, the more they smear. I squint. I turn my head, and try to capture a pinpoint of light that will fall on my retina at just the right angle and reflect a clear impression of what’s before me.


I’ve lived for 39 years as a classic myope, “seeing” new places and people and experiences through my enormous collection of novels, reference and business books, textbooks, biographies, and books on art, psychology and spirituality. At one time, I could take out my contact lenses before I went to bed, put on a pair of bottle-bottom glasses, and settle under my down comforter to read myself to sleep. Since having RK surgery some 17 years ago, however, there’s not a lens in the world that can filter light through my damaged corneas and hit the sweet spot on my retinas. If I want to read these days, I must wear both contact lenses and reading glasses, and maintain a powerful squint.

Now I’m locked into a smeared world filled with beautiful works of art and brilliant literature, as well as the simple pleasures and necessities of sight – the daily newspaper, the buttons in the elevator, the menu at the meat-and-three, the birthday card from a friend, the calorie count on a carton of yogurt. I can’t see any of them clearly enough to use them. Bursts of light are excruciating for my damaged corneas. Sometimes it’s seemed easier just to stay in bed in despair and sleep the days away.

To adequately explain why ClearKone® lenses made such a difference in my life, I have to explain the impact of my RK surgery. I started wearing glasses when I was eight and contacts when I was 12. I could always read without correction, but the glasses and/or contacts were critical if I needed to see anything beyond my books. When RK surgery came to the forefront in the early 1990s, I jumped on the bandwagon and had one major procedure and one “touch-up” performed on each eye by one of the city’s most prominent ophthalmologists. For a few weeks, I lived the miracle of 20/10 vision. I could see the lighted display on my clock in the middle of the night. I no longer had to baby expensive contact lenses or endure the pain of getting debris caught under them. I could move from reading to driving to computer work seamlessly, ride freely in a convertible without worrying about dirt flying into my eyes or my contacts drying out, swim and see at the same time, and best of all – my vision was better than it had ever been in my whole life!

My 20/10 days lasted for about a month, and then the unthinkable happened. My vision began to deteriorate, both at near vision and at a distance. My new crystal-clear world slipped away from me day by day, and I began what would be a 17-year quest to regain my sight. My doctors tried every contact lens available. While I could see fairly well with gas permeable lenses, they were pure misery to wear, rubbing against my RK incisions and forcing me to take them in and out, over and over, every day. My vision fluctuated so much in the course of a day that no prescription glasses ever gave me clear vision at any distance. With menopause, my dry eyes dried out even more. I had my tear ducts cauterized. I tried wearing nothing but glasses for months in hopes that my vision would stabilize and adapt to the glasses, but it didn’t work I moved to another city and new optometrists tried to help me. We tried various soft lenses, but they only draped themselves over my flat cornea and many incisions and did little to help me see, although they were more comfortable than gas perms. My optometrist tried piggy-backing a gas perm lens over a soft lens, but the lenses wouldn’t center. I spent endless hours on the internet and phone, talking with specialists throughout the country, trying to find the one doctor who might have a rare and unpublicized solution for failed RK procedures.

Finally, with the dawning of the new century, the first hybrid lenses came on the market, and after weeks and weeks of fittings and trial and error, for the first time, I had decent vision and decent comfort with monovision Soft Perm lenses. I still couldn’t be corrected with glasses, so I was heavily dependent on my contacts to read, drive, and work. Because my RK incisions were so prone to irritation, the hybrid lenses would periodically cause one or more of the incisions to open up. That was agony, both because of the pain and because I would be unable to wear the lens (and thus become visually disabled) until the incision healed enough for me to tolerate it again. This year I developed yet another problem with my hybrid lenses. Almost as soon as I’d insert them, they would cloud over with a thick, gluey substance. I spent more time taking them out and cleaning them than I spent actually wearing them!

Having moved back to Birmingham, I went back to UAB Eye Care and met Dr. Adam Gordon, who told me about ClearKone® hybrid contact lenses. From the first moment I felt that lens on my eye, I knew it was the answer I’d been searching for. Because the lens floated on a layer of fluid above my RK incisions, they were incredibly comfortable, and my visual acuity was better than it had been since my one-month bout of 20/10 vision 17 years earlier.

SynergEyes Grants Life Changing Gift for Holidays: Ability to Distinguish Family Faces Keratoconus Patients Granted New Hybrid Contact Lens Technology

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Carlsbad, CA (December 20, 2010) – This holiday season patients are receiving the life-changing gift of clear and comfortable vision thanks to the Sharing Vision Grant Program sponsored by SynergEyes, Inc. This program was created to bring the new technologically advanced ClearKone® hybrid contact lens to keratoconus patients who may otherwise not have access.  Keratoconus is a degenerative eye disease that occurs 1 in 1,000 people causing substantially distorted vision and in many cases changes how they live their lives. Patients can apply for the program on at www.TreatKeratoconus.com.

Cassidy Randle was a successful college student looking to go to nursing school, after graduation. Just as any young girl, she wanted to get rid of her glasses and therefore underwent refractive eye surgery in 2003. Initially her vision was okay and then it started deteriorating. In no time she was almost blind in her left eye and had poor vision in the right eye.  She had seen many cornea specialists and tried many type of lenses, but unfortunately, none of the lenses gave her the comfort or the vision back. It came to a point that she was unable to drive a car and her hopes of nursing school were fading.  “I began to worry and think to myself: ‘How will I be able to focus in school if I am unable to see?’” Cassidy said.  And her worries were more personal as well. “The worst feeling imaginable is being unable to distinguish my family’s faces and see their expressions.”

After Dr. Gupta at the University of Texas Medial Branch (UTMB) Eye Center volunteered her time and provided a free fitting for Cassidy in ClearKone® lenses, provided free by SynergEyes, Inc., Cassidy is now able to see again. “When I tried on the lenses for the first time I knew the difference in my vision was going to be life-changing,” said Cassidy.  Thanks to the Sharing Vision Grant Program and Dr. Gupta, Cassidy can see her father’s face again and she can pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.

Currently, over 15 patients are enrolled in the program; receiving free lenses from SynergEyes and free fitting from participating eye care practitioners. One of these patients is Melanie LeMay who is working with Dr. Adam Gordon to achieve clear vision for the first time in 17 years. “I can’t think of a better Christmas gift than a pair of ClearKone® lenses!” said Melanie. “These lenses will be life changing for me and for others as well.”


The ClearKone® hybrid contact lens is the only hybrid lens of its kind for keratoconus and is having a significant impact on thousands of patients.   Available for less than a year, this new technology offers both clear vision and comfort for patients who would otherwise have to compromise their vision.  SynergEyes is the only company that makes a hybrid lens which has a “hard” center for the clear vision, and a soft outer skirt that provides comfort.

About SynergEyes®:

SynergEyes®, Inc. was founded in 2001 with a recognized need for a hybrid contact lens that combined the superior visual acuity of a rigid gas permeable lens with the comfort of a soft contact lens. The patented SynergEyes® hybrid technology with FDA market clearance is providing comfortable clear vision through the services of more than 5000 eye care practitioners throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.

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Cassidy’s Story – a Sharing Vision Grant Program Recipient

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Cassidy is one of the first recipients of the Sharing Vision Grant program, a program designed to provide the new hybrid contact lenses ClearKone® to patients who may otherwise not have access to this new contact lens technology.  Her story is below.

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In year 2004, I was a recent high school graduate that was preparing to enter college during the fall. At the time I was wearing prescription glasses, my vision was fine and that was how I saw for most of my life. My vision was never particularly bad, but around the time I was introduced to the idea of PRK laser eye surgery. It was recommended to me and I welcomed it as a new change from glasses and a chance to improve my vision. I felt that it would help change my life for the better.

Four years had passed since then, I had graduated from college at the top of my class and my vision had sufficed well enough for me to do exceptional in school. It was however, during my senior in college that I noticed that my vision had changed. It was nothing drastic mind you, but it was a bit noticeable. All in all, I decided that it wasn’t too bad and so I paid it no mind. I was able to read, write, drive and function well enough. While I was at home from college, I had intended to study and prepare myself for medical school. But during the year that I had returned home, I noticed that my vision had taken a turn for the worse.


It started with just being unable to read from a distance to being unable to read up close. I had gone with soft lenses for a course of about five months. But they too had failed on me to the point where only my right eye was able to retain vision. I was shipped to various optometrists over the past year and each one was unable to fit me with a prescription. It was very upsetting to notice my vision beginning to deteriorate worse over a span of two months. I am unable to drive now. Everywhere I go I see afterimages and halos cast off of lights. But the worst feeling imaginable is being unable to distinguish my family’s faces and to see their expressions. I began to worry and think to myself, “How will I be able to focus in school if I am unable to see?” I have been told I have a prescription of 20/500 and I have all but given up hope of being able to see out of my left eye.


My mother had begun to worry whether or not if I would possibly go blind. She had set up and appointment with Dr. Gupta at UTMB. I was so surprised and amazed how she was able to fit me with a prescription! When I tried them on, I thought they would be like any other hard lenses that I had tried. It was the exact opposite! They were very comfortable and it was the first time I was able to see clearly in eight months and to see my father’s face. She had told me about the SynergEyes Sharing Vision Grant Program for ClearKone contact lenses. It was the most excitement I felt in a long time. I kept thinking that with these contact lenses I can continue to pursue my dreams of becoming a physician and giving back to the community. ClearKone lenses allow for a new change and impact my life for the better in ways I can not begin to imagine.


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