Firefighter Has New Procedure to Help Improve Vision
We all know it's a firefighter's job to rush into the building as everyone else is running out. Last week, during a huge fire in Minneapolis, one of those firefighters was dealing with much more than the massive flames. As the smoke billowed and the flames erupted, 46-year-old Jeremy Jensen was inside a burning apartment building. "The heat was extreme, it was very hot, you could kind of feel your ears sizzle a little bit," Jensen said. As a Minneapolis firefighter, he was working alongside many others to put a massive fire out. "There was a ton of smoke, you couldn't really see anything," Jensen said. Yet sight, a necessity for firefighters, is causing Jensen anguish. "It's very challenging because I am squinting trying to see, I can see, but it's just not crisp, so it's very frustrating," Jensen said. Jensen has keratoconus, a disease that causes the cornea to change from a dome-like shape to a cone. It can lead to blurry vision. For Jensen, his contacts are horribly uncomfortable. His glasses are a must. We asked him if a lot of people take their eyesight for granted. "Oh, yeah, I get jealous, my wife has never had glasses, a lot of time I'm asking her, can you read that, can you see that for me?" Jensen said.
But now, some hope. Jensen is at the Chu Vision Institute in Bloomington to get corneal cross linking. It's a brand new procedure that will strengthen the cornea tissue in his eye. "There's no cutting, no tissue loss, we rally just place drops on the patients eye then use a light to strengthen the tissue," said Dr. Ralph Chu. After the eye is prepped, there's about a half hour period of time where there are drops going into the eye. Then comes 30 minutes of the light.
Dr. Chu says the procedure will not only halt the progression of the disease but will likely improve this firefighter's eyesight. "You're trying to save lives so having the best vision possible is critical," Chu says. It's an hour of time that could change Jensen's life. "I'm excited, hopefully, this will correct some stuff and make a difference," Chu says. Dr. Chu is one of only a handful of eye doctors in the country FDA approved to perform this procedure.
He says it takes about five to seven days for the eye surface to heal. The eye will then stabilize over the next few months. It costs between $4,000 and $5,000, and as of now is not covered by insurance.