January 18,19,20, 2017

I have not posted in a few days because I have been on a mission to restore the sight of my son Turner.

A few years ago, we noticed that Turner's eyesight had become a little worse.  We got him new contacts only to find that a couple of months after that, he needed another pair.  We all chalked that up to possibly not getting an accurate eye exam and thought that everything would be ok.  A few months later, his eyesight was worse.  We continued this for a few visits until our Dr said that he thought something was out of the ordinary and sent us to a specialist. 

After a few exams, we learned that Turner had something called Keratoconus which is a degenerative eye disease that can cause complete blindness.  The common belief was that there was no cure and only a cornea transplant would restore any opportunity to see properly.

Keratoconus takes the normal, healthy cornea from a basketball shape to more of a football shape.  This makes it increasingly difficult to fit contacts or glasses and the vision continues to degrade over time. 

Olympic Bobsled driver Steven Holcomb had Keratoconus and was legally blind forcing him into retirement before meeting a Dr who would literally change his life and after returning to the sport would win an Olympic Gold Medal.  Steven's story was told in his book, But Now I Can See. 

In researching Keratoconus, I heard about Steven, bought the book and read it.  I was amazed by his story and had great hope that I could one day get my son to see the Dr who had restored Steven's vision. 

For the last 3 days, we have been meeting with Dr Brian Boxer Wachler in Beverly Hills, CA.  The first day, Turner was measured in many different tests and determined to be an excellent candidate for 3 procedures. 

Dr Brian would place tiny plastic inserts in his eyes that are the equivalent of braces for the Keratoconus.  These support the eye shape and keep it more like a basketball. 

The second procedure was done in his left eye (the one that Keratoconus has progressed further) and is a laser heat therapy which helps to reshape the cornea.

Lastly, he received possibly the most important procedure which is the Holcomb C3R.  Instead of a cornea transplant, Dr Brian Boxer Wachler invented a procedure that has a 99.3 % success rate and a 1 day recovery rather than a massively risky 12 month recovery process from a transplant.  Dr Brian found that a Riboflavin vitamin mixture painted on the eye and then exposed to a special light would strengthen the fibers of the cornea to the point of eliminating Keratoconus completely. 

Turner had all 3 procedures done.  He experienced mild discomfort when we returned home but then felt fine.  He had to wear some swim goggles to sleep in and sunglasses outside, but otherwise, he has already resumed normal activity and says that his vision is much better up close.  As I look across the table, I am watching him read and study normally.

The goal of this procedure was not to improve eyesight uncorrected but rather to stop the further degradation of vision and shape his eyes to fit contacts better, resulting in better vision. 

There is another surgery that we will consider which places a lens inside the eye and can fully restore vision.  We cant consider this for another 6 months but certainly will when the time comes.

I asked Brian if he would like to be a guest on Saltwater Experience with Steven Holcomb and Turner and he said he would love to.  I am super excited about the opportunity to film with these guys.

The Holcomb C3R was a revolutionary procedure but was not accepted at first.  Dr Brian showed amazing courage and determination to continue to fight for this procedure.  I am so happy he did.

Here is a TED Talk that Dr Brian Boxer Wachler gave.  I really appreciate his story and the courage that he has exhibited in continuing to fight for his procedure that ultimately has helped my son.  I am so grateful and thankful to have the opportunity to get Turner to Dr Brian.  I am thankful for his intelligence, of course, but there are many smart people in this world.  There possibly could be others who have creatively solved problems but may not have had the courage to coninue the fight for many years until their solution became mainstream.  Dr Brian Boxer Wachler is a man who has demonstrated the courage to defend his solution in tough times.  Thank you Dr.