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Kevin Babbington: Uveitis Patient
“Living life without hesitation”
Kevin Babbington and Dr. Debra Goldstein.
A day at the park changed Kevin Babbington's life forever. When he was 5 years old, Babbington was playing with a glass bottle on the playground. The bottle broke and a piece of glass went into his eye. His doctor, who worked closely with some advisors from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, managed to save his vision but he developed uveitis/sympathetic ophthalmia in both eyes.
Sympathetic ophthalmia, when an injury to one eye triggers the development of inflammation in both eyes, is a rare condition, says Dr. Debra A. Goldstein, professor of ophthalmology and director of the Uveitis Service for the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, occurring in less than 1 percent of nonsurgical trauma and in, at most, 1/10,000 to 1/100,000 ocular surgical procedures.
“The outcome can be devastating, but may be improved with early aggressive therapy,” she says. “Despite aggressive therapy, however, approximately one third of patients with sympathetic ophthalmia end up legally blind.”
For years, Babbington's condition remained relatively stable due to his doctor’s treatment. But as he got older, his condition worsened and he began to battle bouts of inflammation, glaucoma and cataracts. Babbington was then referred to the care of Dr. Goldstein and Dr. Howard Tessler.
“The doctors at UIC have managed to save my vision through the use of both general and experimental medical practices,” he says. "I have always felt the care and treatment I have received from UIC is second to none. I am so comfortable with the doctors from UIC that only as a last resort will I allow another eye doctor to handle my case.”
Babbington has required systemic medication on and off for much of his life, and always requires eye drops. He has also had multiple surgical procedures for each eye, including the placement of a long acting steroid implant into his right eye as part of a clinical trial, says Goldstein. Despite the years of medication and multiple operations, he still has excellent visual acuity in each eye. He sees well enough to read, work and drive a car. In fact, his vision is very close to normal.
Babbington considers his doctors at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary to be the most knowledgeable and understanding of all the doctors he has seen the past 24 years.
He notes that the personal interaction and attention from staff is unlike anything he has seen at other medical facilities. “From the people working the front desk, to the employees scheduling the surgeries, to the doctors, they all know my name and ask how I am, and really truly make an effort to get to know me,” he says. "In fact, I have been quoted as calling Dr. G. my ‘Eye Mom.’”
Babbington says his treatment has helped him live a life without any limitations or fear. “For a long time I was also in fear of losing my vision years down the line," he says. “I think the greatest benefit to the treatment from UIC is that I can live without fear of the loss of my vision. My doctors have done such a wonderful job in their treatment that I can live a happy and normal life."
by Megan Pellegrini
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