My name is Nancy Travis. I am a registered nurse and the Director of Women and Neonatal Services at Lee Health in Fort Myers, Florida. About 12 years ago, I went in to have a pre-op appointment for Lasik surgery on my eyes. The doctor said to me, “Sorry, you can’t have Lasik! You are going to need corneal transplants” and then walked out of the room. I was shocked. I had taken care of people who had corneal transplants a long time ago. They were old and they were almost blind! I was terrified that I would go blind.
I was fortunate enough to find Dr. Mark Gorovoy in Fort Myers who explained to me that I had a hereditary disease called Fuchs Dystrophy that basically destroys the cornea over time. He would follow me and we would decide together when it was “time.” I educated myself. I joined a group called Fuchs Friends with members all over the globe. I even attended a gathering of the Fuchs Friends and listened to some incredible transplant surgeons, Dr. Price from Indianapolis and my own Dr. Gorovoy.
As my vision deteriorated, I had a great deal of difficulty looking at lights. I called this my own personal light show. It looked like bright star bursts around any source of light. This could be as simple as my office lights, the computer, the Florida sunshine, or the larger problem, my vision when driving at night. The Fuchs also caused my vision to become foggy in the mornings. It would clear somewhat during the day and then by the time I was ready to go home, I had to make sure I was on the road home before it got dark or I had to have my husband come pick me up. I also developed some painful blisters on my corneas. My eyes felt like they were full of sand much of the time.
In the spring of 2012, I decided I was ready to get my eyes fixed. My doctor agreed and I was prepped for my first cornea transplant. In May, I received my Intraocular Lens and then one month later, I had the first transplant on June 14th. The procedure I had was a DSAEK. On June 15th, I made the following comment on my Facebook page: “I woke up today and the colors are coming alive.” Every day got better and better and it was only six months until I got to do it again! In November, I had my Intraocular Lens and December 2012, I had my second cornea transplant. In six months since my last transplant, the procedure had advanced and I had the new type of cornea transplant, a DMEK. By 6 pm, on the first night of surgery, I wrote this: “It feels like someone turned my sight on. I looked through my window and could see leaves on the tree. I can see colors. I can read big words on the TV. I can read some on my iPad if I really try! Amazing!” and the very next day: “New Eye Day 2: Today I woke up with almost clear vision from my eye. I still have an air bubble holding the new cornea on, but I can tell it is working great already. I can really watch TV and I can somewhat read my computer through the bubble. This is simply amazing!”
What a gift this is! I am so thankful every day to my two donors and their families who said yes and gave me the gift of sight. This has allowed me to have near perfect vision in both eyes. I can work, I can read, I can see my grandchildren, and I can drive safely at night! I still see Dr. Gorovoy every six months for my eye exam and he has given me great reports at every visit on my new eyes.
The gift of sight is an amazing one. Everyone should consider becoming an eye donor and let their family know of their wishes. There are so many people out there like me, who appreciate this gift each and every day.