Gold medal winning American bobsledder Steve Holcomb was going blind ... Until a major breakthrough changed his life forever. Dr. Bruce Hensel has the details on this new, remarkable treatment.
Just recently, the medal would have been very unlikely. Steve had something called Keratoconus.
Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler, Ophthalmologist said, "Keratoconus is a disease that affects the cornea, which is the outer lens of the eye, and it weakens it. And causes it to bulge out uncontrollably."
Steve was slowly going blind. This is what the world looked like through his eyes.
World Champion Bobsledder, Steve Holcomb said, "Well the vision was like looking under water, it was too blurry, and you couldn't navigate, you couldn't see where you're going."
In the past the only answer would have been surgery -- a corneal transplant.
Dr. Brian boxer Wachler told Steve he had another choice; a quick painless procedure in which a vitamin solution is combined with light
By itself, the vitamin, riboflavin, a b vitamin, does nothing. But when activated by light of a certain wavelength, it has a major impact on the cornea.
"The cornea is made of these collagen fibers that are like belt straps, and those are weak."
After the vitamin solution is applied, the light is simply painlessly shined on the eye, leading the fibers to swell, strengthen and form cross links.
"It strengthens up those fibers, so it holds the shape of the cornea now so it won't continue bulging in the future. So what we see at the minimum is that it holds and preserves the vision and it can a lot of times improve it by giving a little bit of reversal. You can give patients, 20/20 or close to 20/20 vision."
Steve's entire procedure took only 20 minutes.
Holcomb said, "It was painless, it was quick, it was easy, and I laid down and he started working and doing his thing and I had no idea. And has soon as he said, 'Well, we're done,' and that was it and I sat up and sure enough I could see better than I've ever seen before."
C3R is still experimental and it's not for everyone. If you have trouble with your vision, talk to your doctor about what sort of treatment would be right for you.