Whiteville woman raises awareness for rare eye condition for Healthy Vision Month

A woman from Columbus County is raising awareness for a rare eye condition for Healthy Vision Month.

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A woman from Columbus County is raising awareness for a rare eye condition for Healthy Vision Month.

Keratoconus is something most people have never heard of, but it’s something Dr. Lisa Sitterson at Carolina Eye Associates sees often.

“Which is a disease of the cornea that affects mostly younger individuals. So teenagers, 20, 30, 40-year-olds. It affects the cornea, which is the clear dome-shaped covering that covers the colored part of our eye,” Sitterson said.

The disease essentially weakens the structure of the cornea, eventually causing loss of vision. It occurs in about one in 2,000 people. Diana Quintero, of Whiteville, is one of those people.

Quintero was diagnosed with keratoconus when she was 15-years-old. She says people didn’t know a lot about the condition, so she just was given a prescription for glasses and contacts. She went about a decade without being properly treated for it.

“I was working a desk job and the screen, I couldn’t see it,” Quintero said. “Everyone was like, ‘you’re always squinting you need to go to the eye doctor!'”

After visiting a specialist, she was referred to Dr. Sitterson and got corneal cross-linking to treat the disease. Now, she uses scleral lenses — which is a special type of contact lens.

“I used to start struggling with headaches and just pain in my eyes from straining my eyes so much just to try to see,” Quintero said. “Now it’s like I can see clear…. everything — I can read without squinting; I can watch TV.”

Her journey motivated her to help open others’ eyes to the disease.

“Especially for parents, please take your kids to their eye doctor appointments and make sure you’re following up if you see them squinting,” Quintero said.

“It may just be totally normal, they may just be needing some glasses but there’s no harm in checking,” Sitterson said.

For more information on keratoconus and Quintero’s story, visit here.

Categories: Columbus, Columbus, Local, Top Stories
Quintero Eyes
Diana Quintero lives with keratoconus (Photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)