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Dan J Ferris, Cornea and Oculoplastics Patient
Wanted a “Mayo Clinic” for Eye Problems
About 12 years ago, Dan Ferris started experiencing eye pain. The pain included burning and mild sensitivity to light. When he closed his eyes, the pain and discomfort would go away.
Over the following years, his eye pain and sensitivity to light increased. He sought relief from his regular optometrist and two local ophthalmologists. After examining his eyes, each of them came to the same conclusion that Mr. Ferris was suffering from a bad case of dry eyes. Their recommendations included several different types of eye drops, Restasis, and blockage of the tear ducts. None of these remedies worked and his eye problems continued.
“Eventually, it started to feel like I had pieces of sand in one eye, and every blink became very painful,” Mr. Ferris said. “However, as before, the pain would completely go away if I closed my eyes. In addition to the sensation of sand in my eye, I began to squint or my eyes would involuntarily twitch.”
His sensitivity to light made it difficult for him to drive his car for more than a few miles. The pain and involuntary twitching made it difficult to read, watch TV, or use the computer for more than a short time due. In order to avoid the pain and twitching, Mr. Ferris quit trying to drive more than a short distance. He started to use audio books instead of print books.
“I quit watching TV except for very short segments of the news,” he said. “I wore two pairs of sunglasses when I was outdoors but still my eyes would hurt,” he continued. “Because closing my eyes stopped the pain and twitching, I started to keep my eyes closed while riding in the car with my wife, while sitting in church, while attending meetings, etc.”
During Mr. Ferris’s last trip to his local ophthalmologist, he asked if there was a sort of “Mayo Clinic” for eye problems.
“I still remember his response,” he recalled. “He said, ‘I do not know of one, but if there was one, they would tell you the same thing that I have. You are suffering from dry eyes.’”
At this point, Mr. Ferris decided to search the Internet to find hospitals that specialized in eye care and came across the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary. When he called for an appointment, he was surprised to learn how quickly he would be able to meet with one of the doctors.
“Because my case seemed to be rather puzzling, I was examined by several doctors before Dr. Sandeep Jain confirmed that one of my problems was a condition known as superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis (SLK),” Mr. Ferris said. SLK is an inflammatory ocular surface disease that affects the cornea. When Dr. Jain told Mr. Ferris the problem could be solved with a relatively easy surgery, he was eager to proceed.
“The pain and sensation of sand in the corrected eye completely stopped following the surgery,” Dan said.
Dr. Jain referred Mr. Ferris to Dr. Pete Setabutr to treat the twitching and light sensitivity that were not a symptom of his SLK and which he continued to experience. Dr. Setabutr diagnosed Mr. Ferris with a condition known as Blepharospasms and recommended that he begin regular treatments of Botulinum Toxin (Botox) injections around each eye.
Blepharospasm is a condition that is commonly misdiagnosed, according to Dr. Setabutr. Once it is correctly diagnosed many patients find relief from Botox treatments.
“I accepted Dr. Setabutr’s recommendation and the results have been amazing,” Mr. Ferris said. “I am now able to drive, read, watch TV, use the computer and enjoy the outdoors with only mild discomfort,” he continued. “My eyes may never be completely free from pain, but now I have confidence that it is controllable.”
Each of Mr. Ferris’s Botox treatment lasts for up to four months. He takes the train to the Millennium Park Eye Center, the Eye Infirmary’s downtown satellite for his appointments.
“I had to learn to tolerate the Botox injections as a necessary procedure, and I have come to believe the benefits far outweigh the short-time discomfort,” he said. “When the positive effects of the injections begin to wear off at the end of three months, I am always ready for my next treatment,” he added.
“Dr. Jain and Dr. Setabutr have been instrumental in alleviating my eye problems, and I will always be thankful for their expertise and compassionate treatment,” Mr. Ferris said. “Their professional care has enabled me to resume a fairly normal level of vision, which has greatly improved the quality of my life.”
by Julie Ann Daraska
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