Jump to content

Practicing as a nurse with keratoconus



I'm starting nursing school next week, which feels surreal to say since it's been a distant dream of mine for years. It's a six-quarter program for an Associate's Degree of Nursing and I've done all the paperwork, am fully registered and am ready to go. Everything is falling into place.

My concern is that this summer I was diagnosed with an eye condition called keratoconus that significantly affects my vision in my right eye (I have trouble with bright light, I frequently have double vision, it's hard to focus on one image and everything is substantially blurry in that right eye). Here's a link for those who are unfamiliar, essentially the condition is a progressive thinning of the cornea which results in a bulging eye shape (like a cone) and the distorted field of vision: What Is Keratoconus? - American Academy of Ophthalmology. My left eye is unaffected at this time. I only recently found out after failing my vision test at the Department of Licensing (the eye doctor wrote me a note to override that, saying I was safe to drive since my vision in my left eye accommodates for my bad eye. I trust him to make that educated decision and have been driving without an issue). However, I'm worried that I might pose a safety risk in clinical and as a professional nurse down the line if I'm doing an injection or other procedure that requires clear eyesight. If I close my right eye I can see fine, but I know my peripheral vision would be affected. I even bought some eyepatches I intend to wear while studying! Of course, I'm sure that would not fly in clinical.

I fully intend to disclose my concerns with the nursing faculty and I have a follow-up appointment with a corneal eye surgeon in early November. I hope to discuss the possibility of a new surgical technique called corneal cross-linking which has been very promising for those with keratoconus, and hopefully might even improve my vision in that one eye. I know my case is on the mild to moderate side and the original eye doctor made it seem like not too big of a deal, but it is scary to have a progressive eye condition and to be entering a field where I know I'll need to have proper sensory awareness. I do wear eyeglasses right now and if I'm not a good candidate for the eye surgery, the condition can be remedied with specialized gas-permeable contact lenses (I hate contact lenses and have heard that these ones are even more cumbersome, uncomfortable and expensive - so I'd rather just have the surgery and continue wearing my regular glasses!)

I don't know... I've been kind of working myself into a tizzy over this. I definitely have hypochondriac tendencies so that isn't helping! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Hey Carolyn, I have the same worry, and was even rejected from entering the military. Is there any update on being a nurse with this condition??


Specializes in LTC.

The OP last visited 5/2018.