Finding A Good Eye Doctor: A Worthwhile Search
Last updated: April 2023
Finding a really good doctor, while one of the most important things for treatment and symptom management of any health condition, was incredibly arduous for me when it comes to my eye health.
I’ve been near sighted as far as I can remember, since at least middle school. I got regular contacts in high school, and just used both glasses and contacts for many years.
The beginning of my eye journey
During that time, my other health conditions – including celiac disease, atopic dermatitis, allergies, among others, got much worse. In 2014, I started a process called topical steroid withdrawal (TSW). That is when my eye health completely started to deteriorate.
I was bedridden for 6 years, unable to care for myself. Many days, I just laid in bed with swollen, red, painful, itchy eyelids that I couldn’t even open from TSW and eczema. Even the inside of my eyelid was oozing a thick yellow plasma fluid, streaming down my cheeks like tears. This completely damaged my eyes. I started to lose vision and had no idea what was going on. Sometimes blurry vision is common during TSW, so I thought it may just go away. Unfortunately, in my case, it did not, and left a permanent mark.
Trying different doctors
Finally, after going to two regular eye doctors, I was told I had keratoconus and corneal scarring. I was told I needed to go to a cornea specialist. So, I started to search for one who accepts Medicaid, and let’s just say, it was quite the journey. The first doctor I went to, only a few miles from my house, was not even able to take a proper picture of my cornea to see what was going. He tried multiple times, and eventually just gave up. It took an hour or two of him trying to examine my eyes and take pictures, and I only ended up extremely frustrated by the end. He essentially just told me he was unable to do anything, and I was sent away.
By now, this was already 3 doctors I had gone through. After this, the research for another doctor began again. I found a specialist at Loyola hospital in Chicago and figured that would be the jackpot. However, that was unfortunately another disappointment. I just kept being told I had severe, permanent, corneal damage, and that I may need a corneal transplant. I wasn’t happy with that, as that is typically the very last option, when everything else is exhausted – and I hadn’t tried anything yet!
Finally finding a good doctor
While the doctor at Loyola couldn’t help, through her, I was directed to my current ophthalmologist. And I have to say – she’s probably the best doctor I have ever seen. Since Loyola couldn’t help me, the doctor there thought maybe the University of Illinois in Chicago may be able to. Since they are a teaching hospital, they have a lot more equipment and resources available. Thankfully, she was absolutely right.
Finally, I found my dream doctor. She spent over 4 hours with me to fit my scleral lens, did more tests than I can count, and I finally got diagnoses and a treatment plan. It was a very frustrating process of having to go to so many different doctors and spending so much time and energy on this. But in the end, it proved to be worth it.
So, if you can’t find a good doctor the first time, and it just doesn’t feel right, keep looking! I refused to think I was doomed and that I would need a transplant right away, and it turned out I was right. Our bodies always know what we need - we just have to listen to them.
I believe it’s so important to fight and advocate for ourselves and our health. It’s okay to get a second opinion, and it’s okay if it doesn’t work out the first time. With some time, patience, and persistence – you WILL find a doctor who will fight for you just as hard.
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