Ten years ago, thirty-eight-year-old Chris Arth was diagnosed with Keratoconus in his left eye during a routine eye exam.
Keratoconus is a debilitating condition where the surface of the eye begins to bulge outward like a cone as a result of the cornea's structure becoming too weak to hold a rounded shape.
At the time of his diagnosis, Chris' symptoms were still mild, so doctors fitted him with contacts in order to minimize complications that might arise. However, over time he began noticing his contacts painfully shifting in his eye or popping out.
As a graphic designer and father, Keratoconus slowly started to affect Chris' life at work and at home. He struggled with decreasing eyesight and ill-fitting contacts for years, until finally he decided to speak with Dr. Allen Roth at Cleveland Clinic's Cole Eye Institute about a corneal transplant.
Chris' surgery took only an hour to complete. A portion of his cornea was removed using scissors and a special instrument called a trephine, which works something like a tiny circular cookie-cutter. This process leaves an opening in the patient's cornea where a similar-sized section of corneal tissue from a donor is placed and fastened with very small stitches.
After the procedure Chris would come in once a month for doctors to remove one or two stitches each session. Slowly but surely over the next year, his eyesight began to improve with each stitch that was removed.
"I liked how Cleveland Clinic spent time with me, talked with me and we were able to get the right fit for the eye. I feel a heck of a lot better. I'm able to play with my kids, I see the detail in my work, and I see the colors better than I've ever seen before."
"I guess I took for granted that green was green, but after the process of surgery I noticed that the green was a more vibrant green and the difference of this red versus that red, or the details of the branches in the trees that you see everyday. This surgery made a big impact on my life [sic]," says Chris.
Chris says that now his life has changed significantly. While he still wears contacts every day, they no longer cause him discomfort and his vision has greatly improved. He credits the Cole Eye and transplant teams at Cleveland Clinic for helping restore his eyesight.
"I liked how Cleveland Clinic spent time with me, talked with me and we were able to get the right fit for the eye," Chris says. "I feel a heck of a lot better. I'm able to play with my kids, I see the detail in my work, and I see the colors better than I've ever seen before [sic]."
Cole Eye Institute