Casey Brown knew as young as 15 that something was wrong with his vision. It was getting worse, and glasses and contacts didn’t help. He even had a cataract removed from his left eye, but his vision only worsened. At one point, a teacher handed him a piece of paper with his grade on it, but he couldn’t make out the grade. To keep his family from worrying, he adapted and kept his concerns to himself. When he graduated high school, his dream of enlisting in the military ended when he failed the eye exam, which noted there was a degenerative eye disease. In total shock, Brown never shared this information with his family. Dismayed but determined to move forward, Brown enrolled in Drury and moved to Springfield near his aunt Shalene Dunmore. It was Dunmore who knew right away that something was seriously wrong.
“She took me to her eye doctor, and she said, ‘he has something developing in his eye,’” Brown says. Brown was referred out for further elevation and was diagnosed with keratoconus by Dr. Aaron Dent, an ophthalmologist with Mercy. Keratoconus causes the cornea to weaken and the eye to become misshapen. This can eventually cause scarring within the cornea and decreased vision. Brown’s case was so severe, Dent referred Brown to another Mercy ophthalmologist—Dr. Shachar Tauber who was a Top Doctors winner for Ophthalmological Surgery for Springfield. After evaluating Brown’s eyes, Tauber determined that Brown’s left cornea had weakened so much, he needed a cornea transplant. His right eye was stronger, so Tauber recommended a new treatment called Cross Linking. There was one problem: The procedure wasn’t available at Mercy.