Managing Keratoconus

HealthBeat

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — When you go to the doctor for a routine checkup, you hope it will be just that: routine.

But for one family, a back-to-school eye exam led to a surprising diagnosis.

When Baylen Guenther and his family traveled to Yankton for a routine eye exam, they quickly learned the Nebraska boy’s doctor visits would be far from over.

“From my understanding the doctor has said that, ‘Something just doesn’t look right.’ He said, ‘I don’t have the tools here; I don’t have the equipment to diagnose what this is. We need to send you on,'” Baylen’s mother, Tiffany Guenther, said.

Next stop, Sioux Falls.

Once the Guenther family came to Vance Thompson Vision, they found out Baylen had Keratoconus.

“That’s when our journey kind of began here,” Tiffany said.

“What Keratoconus is when the cornea, the clear part of your eye, starts to bulge and take the shape of a cone,” Dr. John Berdahl said.

Ophthalmologist Dr. John Berdahl says it’s caused by the genes we were born with and how often we rub our eyes.

A procedure called cornea cross-linking can manage the condition.

“What that does is we apply ultra violet light and riboflavin and that creates these little cross links in the cornea that help stabilize it and prevent it from bulging further. In fact, it usually can flatten it a little bit and maybe even normalize the shape some,” Berdahl said.

Baylen had the surgery, and he now wears a special contact in his left eye where he had the procedure.

“It’s just weird being able to see out of both eyes. It’s just a different feeling I guess,” Baylen said.

“When he got the contact he walked out of here and he goes, ‘Wow! Look at all the color, Mom.’ Pretty amazing,” Baylen said.

Baylen had also been suffering from severe headaches before the surgery.

Dr. Berdahl says the headaches were likely linked to the eye condition.

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