Special lenses help physician with poor vision see again - WKRN News 2

Special lenses help physician with poor vision see again

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

Camiron Pfennig always dreamed of one day becoming a doctor.

"I remember my mom and dad giving me a Fisher Price doctor kit when I was little and my sister and I would operate on stuffed animals," Pfennig told Nashville's News 2.

For the past eight years, the 33-year-old has been living out her dream.

Five of those years have been spent working as a physician in the emergency department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

However, her rapidly fading eyesight was making it difficult to perform her job.  

"I did not realize it would hit so hard, so quickly and take my vision away in days.  I was declining," said Pfennig.

When Pfennig was a teenager she was diagnosed with Keratoconus, a thinning disorder of the cornea.  It was getting progressively worse, making simple daily tasks difficult and her responsibilities as a doctor almost impossible to do.

"Stitching up patients was very difficult for me.  Any small micro-type activities were hard, plus I couldn't even see a computer screen," said Pfennig.

She experimented with glasses and contacts and even tried wearing both a soft and hard contact lens in each eye at one time, but nothing seemed to work.

Eventually, Pfennig and Dr. Jeffrey Sonsino at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute decided to try something else.

"We fit her into scleral lenses which are a special type of contact lens that actually don't rest at all on the cornea or the clear part of the eye.  They rest on the white part of the sclera," Dr. Sonsino told Nashville's News 2.

 The lenses changed Pfennig's life.

"It's amazing what I realized I was missing when I couldn't see.  Now it's unbelievable the signs I can read. I can look at patients in a whole new perspective," said Pfennig.

She recently fulfilled her second dream and completed her first ironman competition.

"The eyes held out. I was able to see the entire time," said Pfennig.  

But best of all, the new lenses allow her to care for sick patients which is something she hopes to do for a long, long time.  

Pfennig has had the scleral lenses for about a year.  The lenses aren't cheap and can cost thousands of dollars.  

Few centers in the country offer them.  

Doctor Sonsino says as the disease progresses, corneal transplantation is an option, but it's usually a last resort.

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