Jul 20, 2010
Popular radio and television personality Glenn Beck yesterday announced that he could go blind from macular dystrophy, possibly even within the next year. Macular dystrophy of the cornea is a rare, recessively inherited disorder of the cornea, the clear, focusing window to the eye. It causes grayish-white opacities that can occur across the entire cornea. The problem can begin as early as age 10 but generally worsens between the ages of 20 and 40. As you can imagine the vision can be severely affected and in the very worst cases it can lead to complete loss of useful vision. There are no medications to remove the cloudy areas and laser treatment would only be able to vaporize very surperficial lesions, leaving all the deeper cloudy areas untouched.
The good news is that the most severe cases can be treated with full-thickness corneal transplantation with a very high success rate. Thank God for the many talented fellowship-trained corneal specialist ophthalmologists across this great country (and all the organ donors also!) For now, I am sure that Glenn is probably having difficulty with his reading and possibly night driving. The real problem is that the mild to moderate cases will cause lots of aggrevation and blurriness but may not get to the severity where transplantation is recommended. It's kind of like having a bad heart and you get short of breath and feel weak and tired but you're getting by and you're not bad enough to go through the rigors and long recovery of an actual heart transplant. For Glenn Beck, at some point down the road, his problem might get bad enough that corneal transplantation could be considered. At present, I pray that his problem remains stable and he can retain reasonably good vision.