Eye disease can lead to isolation and depression. But making some adjustments can help with the depression. Robin Heinz Bratslavsky (pictured below with her oldest son) was diagnosed with keratoconus (KC) 20 years ago at age 25. Now a mother of two who works from home as a freelance editor. She participates in NKCF’s KC-Link.
When I was diagnosed with KC, I was an editor at a major women’s magazine. The diagnosis didn’t mean much to me at the time. Things changed when I was fitted with RGPs. I had limited wear time and pain, and I started to feel anxious about my career. There were times I had to leave work early and drive to my eye specialist — several times a week. As a young editor in a highly competitive field, I was concerned these absences would interfere with my ability to move up at the magazine.
When I had my first child, my husband and I decided I would stay home with him and work on a freelance basis. I’ve been doing this for 14 years now. Through a series of corneal abrasions, infections and lens-tolerance issues, I have had to rely heavily on my husband and family and friends to drive me and my children when my eyes would not cooperate. I have had moments of extreme despair, because I am not used to being so dependent. My husband works incredibly long hours, and he used to travel a lot. I was always worried I would not be able to drive my children in an emergency.
As my KC has progressed, I have moments in which my normally well-controlled clinical depression manifests, and I feel helpless because of my vision limitations. My sons are both avid soccer players, and I miss a lot of their on-field accomplishments, because I simply cannot see well enough.
At this point, I wear Kerasoft lenses, and I have had Intacs placed in my right eye. My vision, corrected, is about 20/30, but that can vary from day to day. After 20 years, it appears my KC is stabilizing, so I have a pair of emergency glasses; they get me to approximately 20/60, so I can’t drive, but I can function somewhat around my house to give my eyes a break. I’ve been living with KC for a long time; it’s a manageable disease — as long as you are willing to make some adjustments.