Chloe - cornea recipient, VIC
At the age of 10, Chloe noticed the sight in her right eye was deteriorating, until all she could see was the colour white.
Chloe was diagnosed with keratoconus, a progressive eye disease that affects the cornea. Our corneas help to bend and focus light to enable us to see. With keratoconus, the cornea becomes thinner and loses its shape. An irregular cone-shape develops which can result in significant visual impairment.
Being listed for a corneal transplant provided Chloe and her family with some hope that Chloe may regain some sight in her right eye.
After a few months on the wait list, Chloe’s family received a call from the hospital to say a corneal match had become available. Even at such an early age, Chloe recalls this being a very sobering and surreal moment.
“I was very aware that getting the call meant that someone else had suffered something. I was acutely aware of that at that time and, as excited as I was for me, I also felt very sad. I was so sad for someone else,” says Chloe.
More than 20 years on, Chloe has undergone three corneal transplants. While it has been a long road for the now 31-year-old, Chloe says her corneal transplants have been life-altering.
“Before my fist cornea transplant, I only saw white. There was just no vision at all from my right eye. Now I can see colour and outlines and I had none of that before. That’s a significant difference for me,” says Chloe.
“It’s the little things you wouldn’t even think about. I’m totally obsessed with reading; I always have my head in a book. I can drive. Colour increases your peripheral vision. If you walk around with one eye closed, you’re going to be walking into walls and doors all day, and that’s what it was like before transplant. Now, because I see colour and outlines of things, I can walk around and that side of my face is no longer blocked off to the world,” she says.
When asked what she might say to anyone considering becoming an eye and tissue donor, Chloe says this:
“Imagine walking around with your eyes closed and trying to get around in life not being able to see your loved ones or have your own independence. If you have a chance to help someone get even 5% of that, it can really change someone’s life. Imagine only being able to see the colour white, and then being able to see blue and green.”