Keratoconus Journey: Cameron
With symptoms like blurred vision, headaches, and excessive eye rubbing, keratoconus can easily be misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed, with clinicians looking to prescribe glasses or contact lenses as a logical answer to address vision-related concerns when there seems to be no other explanation.
That’s what happened to Cameron Poplin of South Carolina who at age 20 during the global pandemic suddenly experienced debilitating headaches and extremely blurred vision out of his left eye one day while getting ready for work.
He went to his optometrist and a retina specialist, but they were unable to give him a diagnosis. His impaired vision and severe headaches quickly landed him in the emergency room, but without a diagnosis, he was back to a specialist, and then a neurologist, only to be sent back to his optometrist to be fitted for glasses. Cameron’s parents wondered if his vision problem could be caused by too much screen time or stress because scans did not indicate anything physically wrong, yet he spent three months in his bedroom in total darkness – unable to use his phone, watch TV or listen to music because his headaches were so bad.
Ultimately, Cameron saw an ophthalmologist who had the proper equipment to diagnose KC in his left eye and recommended iLink®, the first and only FDA-approved corneal cross-linking procedure that slows or halts the progression of KC to preserve vision. Fortunately, Cameron’s right eye is stable, although his doctors continue to monitor it regularly for any changes. In preparation for the iLink procedure, he was educated about KC and understood that the cross-linking procedure was necessary to stiffen and strengthen the cornea to slow or halt the progression of the disease. Immediately after the procedure on his left eye, Cameron experienced minor pain and his headaches stopped. He now wears scleral contact lenses in both eyes. These specialty contact lenses are larger than traditional contact lenses with a fluid reservoir layer to help improve severe vision irregularities.
Cameron is happy to trade the fear, frustration, headaches, and vision problems for a routine that requires eye drops and carefully inserting the contact lenses in his eyes. He also discovered a special device to help insert the lenses – a magnifier and light – to ensure there are no unwanted bubbles. And to further enhance his vision, especially for reading, Cameron is able to use innovative new glasses while wearing his sclera contacts.
An avid drummer who can play with or without his scleral lenses, Cameron does deal with some minor inconveniences as a result of his KC. He does not drive, although he has been given the okay by his doctor, because night vision remains a concern. He also must wear sunglasses whenever he is outside due to light sensitivity, and he only recently learned he can swim if he wears goggles over his lenses. Without his scleral lenses, he can barely see.
When not working in the hospitality industry, Cameron is passionate about generating awareness for KC, openly discussing his condition on social media and encouraging people to ask an eye doctor to refer them to a specialist if experiencing symptoms. His advocacy also includes posts and livestreaming on TikTok where is shares tips and information about KC and other eye conditions. His goal is to promote early detection and treatment in a timely manner to prevent the vision loss he experienced.
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The results described on this site are based on data collected regarding short- and intermediate-term efficacy of treatment. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.