I Can Do Anything
Patient: Linda Charles
Diagnosis: Sjogren's syndrome
Sight Restored: 2015
Linda Charles (pictured with her grandsons) is not a hypochondriac. She is one of the millions living with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease in which the patient’s white blood cells attack the glands in the body that make moisture. The two primary symptoms are extremely dry eyes and mouth, but many people with Sjogren’s also exhibit chronic fatigue, persistent cough, joint pain, and dry skin. Sjogren’s disproportionately affects women.
When Linda served in the Army Nurse Corps, she sought help from military doctors for her ocular problems. Ophthalmologists there candidly told her that they had never seen such dry eyes, but that they had no idea what her underlying condition might be or how to help her. Linda eventually left the Army with a medical discharge.
As years passed, Linda became increasingly frustrated with her condition. Her extremely dry eyes were attributed to many different causes, including allergies and menopause. Contact lenses prescribed to help simply popped out of her eyes. Different doctors treated her problems as though they stemmed from different causes. Ultimately it literally took decades for someone to put the pieces together and correctly diagnose Linda. “Peter Laibson at Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia diagnosed me within five minutes of our first appointment,” Linda remembered.
Now able to put a name to her illness, Linda spent several additional years trying a variety of - mostly unsuccessful - treatments for her eyes before she was finally referred for BostonSight® PROSE treatment. “PROSE treatment was a gift from God,” said Linda. “I couldn’t believe that I could be part of the normal, functioning world again. My eyes were the main focus of every minute of every day – I would wonder how long I could stay at this wedding, or when I had to leave my grandkids to be able to drive home safely. Now, I can just forget about them – it’s amazing.”
Linda is fortunate to have a supportive network of family and friends, but many others in her situation become socially isolated. Having regained her sight, Linda is dedicated to giving to others in her situation. “I want to be an advocate for all of the women with Sjogren’s who don’t have the kind of support system that I have.”
Linda formerly volunteered at the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation; she currently gives her time to a local grant giving organization. She also wants to ensure that those who can benefit from PROSE treatment have the opportunity to learn about it. “PROSE treatment gave me back a quality of life that I had mourned as lost forever. Now I feel like I can do anything.”