“I’ve had vision problems my whole life. It was first discovered at one of those checkups they do in Kindergarten.”
Tammy also has Lupus and Sjogren Syndrome, which further complicate her vision and treatment options. She developed Plaquenil Toxicity, causing retinal damage, from a medication she takes for Lupus. Tammy also has Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, an abnormality of a gland in her eyes that causes dry eye syndrome.
When Tammy was 24 years old, she had radial keratotomy in both eyes to correct her distance vision. She saw well for nearly 20 years. Then in 2016, she began to experience severe vision problems. She visited her eye doctor every two months for a new glasses prescription, but nothing seemed to help. Her doctor discovered the scars from the radial keratotomy were causing irreversible damage. Her only option was corneal transplants.
She received a cornea in her left eye in 2016. Unfortunately it didn’t help as much as expected. Believed to be a side effect of her other medical conditions, her eyes are constantly dry which doesn’t allow the cornea to properly heal after a transplant.
Tammy needs a transplant in her right eye as well, but her doctor would like to get her tear ducts properly functioning before proceeding with that. She is required to place heat packs on her eyes to stimulate her tear ducts and recently had Punctal Plugs put in both eyes to help with excessive dryness due to Sjogren’s. She will also need cataract surgery at some point.
While Tammy still struggles with vision issues, she believes she would be worse off without having received the corneal transplant. Her vision improves each time she goes in for a check-up.
“We don’t all see the same way. People need to know that. I participate in this project to show how I see the world. Even though my transplant wasn’t as successful as I had hoped, I am thankful. It’s never going to be perfect. I know that and would like to encourage others to realize what they have and to be thankful for it.”
Tammy is not able to drive and must rely on her husband to get her places. Tammy takes photos of what she can, when she can. She then examines the photos up close when she gets home. “Sometimes I take 20 photos of the same thing and only one turns out because I can’t see very well when I am taking them.”