For Patients

Breaking the Chains

Patient: Melissa Kelley
Diagnosis: dry eye caused by rheumatoid arthritis
Sight Restored: August 2011

BostonSight PROSE patient Melissa Kelley

When Melissa Kelley was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) nearly 25 years ago, she was committed not to let the stiff, aching joints, painful muscles, and fatigue that are the hallmarks of this disease change her active lifestyle.

With medical treatments and lifestyle modifications, she was able to continue pursuing her outdoor passions, including cycling, rock-climbing, skiing, and whitewater canoeing, that are very much an integral part of the quality of life in Colorado.

But when Melissa began experiencing dry eye symptoms, a common complication of RA, her determination was sorely tested. A self-professed “night owl” accustomed to working the night shift as a nurse, she could barely tolerate keeping her eyes open: "I was in such horrible pain; it was sending me to bed so early." Reading a good book until the small hours of the morning, using the computer, or knitting became a thing of the past. The pain and light sensitivity she experienced from the wind and bright Colorado sunlight made outdoor sports impossible.

She tried lubricating drops and gels, punctal plugs, and prescription immunosuppressant medications, but her dry eye symptoms only grew worse. Then, an ophthalmologist referral to Boston Foundation for Sight changed everything.

Melissa approached her treatment at BFS with her typical indomitable spirit, determined that PROSE was going to be successful for her. And it was. "You’ve got to want it and think positive that it’s going to work. The staff at BFS is going to get you there."

Armed with her new devices, Melissa has set her sights on a challenging new goal: climbing a Fourteener (a mountain peak exceeding 14,000 feet). "I'm dying to get back to exercising so that I can climb that mountain next year.”


“Despite her rheumatoid arthritis and the impact on her joints, Melissa always greeted me with a smile. Her story is one of perseverance and not letting physical limitations take over her life. After PROSE she wants to go hiking and ski again! Her determination reminds me of one my favorite books...Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull: “Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body, too.”” 
- Dr. Karen Carrasquillo

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