Early in the morning on September 14th, 2015, Carly woke up with a headache and light sensitivity in her eyes. After deciding to wear glasses instead of putting contacts in, she took the bus to school and tried to ignore the pain. But it became too much, and only about 30 minutes after arriving at school, Carly was at the nurse’s office being sent home. After going to urgent care later that night and being diagnosed with a corneal abrasion, she thought she would be back at school within the next week. However, after her ophthalmologist put a patch on her eye, it ulcerated and became an infection that left her blind in her right eye.
Carly was sent to Scheie where she met Dr. Wu, and eventually Dr. Orlin, her current ophthalmologist. Carly missed about six weeks of school for constant doctor appointments and hourly eye drops, and was home-schooled by two different teachers so she wouldn’t fall behind. After the infection was completely healed in January 2016, life went back to normal, or as normal as it could be with a scar over her right eye affecting her vision. Then, in February 2017, Carly was given the option of getting a transplant. After some deliberation, the next month on March 15th, 2017, Dr. Orlin performed a corneal transplant on Carly.
“The next morning when they took the patch off, my eye was the clearest it had been in two years” Carly said. “It was an amazing feeling to be able to see clearly again.”
Now fitted with a scleral lens 2 ½ years after transplant, Carly said there is nothing that she can’t do.
“I can wear any pair of sunglasses again, which is such a small thing to be excited about but I really am,” Carly said. “The little victories that I have won back after having my transplant make all the eye drops and the loose stitches worth it.”
Now, Carly is a junior at Saint Joseph’s University, where she studies International Relations and English. Currently working as a summer intern at Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley, Carly wants to stress the importance of signing up on the donor registry, and the impact that being an eye, tissue and organ donor can have.
“One person can save eight lives and benefit so many more, which is an amazing thing,” Carly said. “It is one of the most difficult decisions to make, but the impact is felt by recipients every single day.”