Medical student’s vision was threatened by keratoconus, and early diagnosis and treatment could prove to be key to preserving the patient’s vision.
A Moorfields Eye Hospital ophthalmologist has performed a life-changing surgery on a 23-year-old patient after diagnosing him with a progressive eye disease that is prevalent in Middle Eastern communities.
Mogemad Osama, an Ajman University student from Palestine who plans to become a dentist, struggled for years with devastating vision loss which caused him to change his prescription glasses multiple times. After deciding that he needed to seek help, Osama was referred to Esmaeil Arbabi, MD, at MoorfieldsEye Hospital, a Mubadala Health partner.
According to a Moorfields Eye Hospital news release, Osama feared he would not be able to realize his dream of practicing dentistry.
“My career depends on two things: my eyes and my hands,” he said in the news release. “When I first started having problems with my vision, it was a huge disappointment for me. But I never give up.”
Osama was soon diagnosed with keratoconus, which affects the structure of the cornea and gradually causes blurred vision that cannot be corrected with glasses. The eye hospital noted in the news release a recent study found while the disease affects only one in 2,000 people worldwide, the prevalence of the disease in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is 2.7 percent, which is 54 percent higher than the global average, according to the hospital’s news release. The condition also impacts both men and women and typically stabilizes by the time people reach their 30s, although by then serious damage could have been caused.
According to Arbabi, who has treated a number of cases of keratoconus, the cause of the disease is unknown, but genetics and environmental factors could play a role. Osama’s father had surgery several years ago for the same condition.
Instead of opting for a corneal transplant, Arbabi performed cross-linking, combined with a sophisticated laser treatment on Osama’s left eye. The advanced laser reshapes the cornea and smoothens the irregularities caused by keratoconus. This will then be immediately followed by the application of Vitamin B eyedrops and shining of an ultraviolet light on the eye. The procedure only takes just 15 minutes to complete and has a 95 percent chance in stopping the progression of the disease.
“Early diagnosis and early treatment are absolutely essential,” Arbabi in the news release. “If we catch this early enough, we can treat it so that it’s like nothing has happened at all. But if you delay, there’s a risk of a lifetime wearing hard, rigid contact lenses, or ultimately requiring a corneal transplant. It could lead to a poor quality of life for the rest of your life.”
“Before the procedure I was experiencing double vision; it wasn’t clear at all,” said Osama. “But 10 days after, everything in my left eye was back to normal. I even returned to university and started to work again. It would be fair to say that my career has been saved by Dr. Arbabi and the great staff at Moorfields.”
The disease will be the focus of the 1st Annual International Keratoconus Academy (IKA) of Eye Care Professionals Keratoconus Symposium will take place April 22-23, 2023, at the Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, Arizona.
This new hybrid, interactive conference for optometrists, ophthalmologists, and other eye care professionals involved in keratoconus management will promote ongoing professional education and scientific development in keratoconus and other forms of corneal ectasia. The topics covered will include using new diagnostic technologies, maximizing keratoconus management in clinical practice, and amplifying clinician voices on keratoconus best practices.
The co-chairs of the event are IKA CEO and cofounder S. Barry Eiden, OD, FAAO, FSLS, North Suburban Vision Consultants, Deerfield, Illinois; IKA president and cofounder Andrew S. Morgenstern, OD, FAAO, FNAP, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland; and IKA executive board member Elizabeth Yeu, MD, Virginia Eye Consultants, Norfolk.
“The 1st annual IKA Keratoconus Symposium will be [a gathering] of some of the greatest minds in the field of keratoconus who will share their extensive knowledge and experience regarding the most current information available and their visions toward the future,” Eiden commented.
Registration is free for students, residents, fellows, active duty service members, and veterans.