Jessa’s Crosslinking Story

Jessa Lethbridge, a junior at Lehi High School, is just like any teenager – she enjoys spending time with her friends, playing soccer, and competing with her high school marching band. The last thing Jessa wanted to worry about was her eyesight affecting her ability to do the things she loved.

When Jessa was in 8th grade, she was struggling with poor vision. She went to see her optometrist for a routine exam, and was told her vision in her right eye could not be corrected to 20/20 with her regular contact lenses due a condition called keratoconus. Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition where the eye is shaped more like a football, than spherical like a baseball. The weak corneal tissue and cone-like shape causes distortions when light enters the eye, making vision blurry and difficult to obtain sharp, clear vision with regular glasses or contact lenses.

“It scared me at first to hear you have a disease in your eye,” said Jessa.

Jessa’s optometrist monitored her condition for a couple of years, and then recommended a few different options to address help improve Jessa’s quality of vision. The first option was to wear hard contact lenses. Hard contact lenses are much more expensive than soft contacts, and they can take some time getting used to. Also, hard contact lenses may help improve quality of vision, but they don’t actually stop or slow the progression of keratoconus.

Jessa’s optometrist and her mother Angie both decided Corneal Cross-Linking would be the best option for Jessa. Cross-linking is an FDA approved treatment that uses a combination of riboflavin drops and UV light to rebuild collagen bonds to strengthen the cornea.

Angie didn’t want her daughter to have just any doctor perform the treatment, so after extensive research, she decided to visit Dr. Darcy Wolsey at The Eye Institute of Utah. Dr. Wolsey was one of the surgeons that participated in the FDA clinical trials for Corneal Crosslinking for six years leading up the the FDA approval of the treatment in April 2016. Dr. Wolsey has performed more than 100 crosslinking treatments.

When keratoconus is diagnosed early and treated using cross-linking, patients are able to slow or halt the progression of the disease, and prevent the need for a corneal transplant surgery. Cornea transplant surgery is much more invasive than cross-linking, and requires a lifetime of care and much longer recovery.
“It is a lot of recovery,” Wolsey said. “There is unpredictability in the outcomes.”

Jessa underwent the cross-linking treatment on her right eye in May of 2017, and has been
“I would recommend anyone go to Dr. Wolsey, I just felt confident in her expertise and she was really friendly. She made us very comfortable, she’s really personable,” Angie expressed.

Since having the cross-linking treatment in May of 2017, Jessa is still a little light sensitive, but is enjoying her vision. “I can see better and just haven’t had as many problems with that eye since my cross-linking treatment. I would totally have the treatment again – in a heartbeat,” Jessa expressed.

If you have been diagnosed with keratoconus and would like to see if Corneal Crosslinking is right for you, contact The Eye Institute of Utah at 800-760-4171.

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