Clearly KC Podcast

Welcome to Clearly KC, a podcast produced by the National Keratoconus Foundation, featuring information about life with this eye disease. Each month, Dr. Melissa Barnett OD, a leading authority shares valuable insights, speaks with medical professionals who treat this condition and listens to patients and families affected by keratoconus. Our goal is to share information to help you manage your keratoconus, seek out the best treatment options and live a full and productive life. Clearly KC is for patients, family members, and medical professionals interested in learning more about KC. This podcast is intended to provide general information about KC and should not be considered an alternative to medical consultation and treatment with your eyecare provider. Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO, FSLS is an internationally recognized expert in keratoconus and other conditions that affect the cornea. She is the chief optometrist at the University of California Davis School of Medicine. Read more about her at National Keratoconus Foundation is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to raising awareness of the eye disease keratoconus. While we located at University of California Irvine, our reach is international. To learn more, visit

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4 days ago

Clearly KC host Dr. Melissa Barnett OD celebrates World KC Day with returning patient and health advocate Rachel Dungan.  They discuss keratoconus as an invisible disability that others may not perceive or appreciate.  Rachel declares that KC makes her move through the world and pick up cues from others differently.  The two also assess the importance of not letting KC hold you back, even if it means taking extra steps to achieve your goal.  They discuss the importance of trusting yourself and communicating changes in health and vision with your doctor in order to find the right treatment options.

Monday Nov 13, 2023

Clearly KC host Dr. Melissa Barnett OD chats with Sacramento-based cornea surgeon Dr. Sam Lee MD.  Dr. Lee has performed corneal crosslinking since the procedure earned FDA approval in 2016.  He described the procedure in detail and noted the results are quite good, with only 1-5% of patients needing retreatment and emphasized the importance of crosslinking as soon as there is any evidence of progression.  Dr. Lee and Dr. Barnett ended with a comparison of epi-on versus epi-off protocols, and Dr. Lee predicted that the future would bring less invasive and more individualized crosslinking techniques to treat keratoconus.

Monday Oct 30, 2023

Clearly KC host Dr. Melissa Barnett OD visits with Dr. Suzanne Sherman OD, Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Tampa’s University of South Florida.  Dr. Sherman and Dr. Barnett discuss the impact of estrogen and progesterone on vision.  Increased hormone level resulting from pregnancy can lead to many changes in the body, including decreased stiffness in the cornea, increasing the bending and shifting that is common in keratoconus.  Dr. Barnett agrees that doctors should educate all patients of the possibility of temporary vision changes during pregnancy and the post-partum period so that patients will not be alarmed.

Monday Aug 14, 2023

Clearly KC host Dr. Melissa Barnett OD visits with Rachel Dungan, a Director with Academy Health, a Washington DC policy institute.  In 2016, Rachel’s short video, “How Do I Look?” was awarded first prize at the NKCF Film Festival.  Since then, she has addressed lawmakers, clinicians, and health researchers about her keratoconus journey.  Rachel shared her experience of living with undiagnosed KC and how it affected her confidence, her health, and her interactions with others.  Rachel reflected that keratoconus impacted her career choice and led her to her present position advocating for more patient input and engagement in health research.

Monday Jul 31, 2023

Clearly KC host Dr. Melissa Barnett OD and Dr. Daddi Fadel, DOptom celebrate Dry Eye Awareness month by answering listener questions.  Dr. Fadel is a clinician scientist at the University of Waterloo in Canada and co-author of “Clinical Guide for Scleral Lens Success” with Dr. Barnett.  Dr. Fadel observes that a majority of individuals with keratoconus also suffer from dry eye disease.  She describes the different types of dry eye and how the tear film bathes and nourishes the ocular surface.  Dr. Barnett mentions several new and existing products available to manage dry eye.

Monday Jul 10, 2023

Clearly KC host Dr. Melissa Barnett OD visits with Louis Karaolis LLB, PhD, professor, Head of Law, and Director of Academic Affairs at Cyprus Business School.   An expert on EU law, he has been visiting lecturer at UK law schools, and law school admissions examiner at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.  Now splitting his time between London and Cyprus, Karaolis shares his experience of being diagnosed as a teenager and undergoing a corneal transplant at age 23.  He shared the study of law entails endless reading of textbooks and journals and, at times, he wondered if he had chosen the wrong profession.  Karaolis proposes that living with keratoconus strengthened his tenacity and resolve to overcome challenges.  

Monday Jun 26, 2023

Clearly KC host Dr. Melissa Barnett OD was joined by Joey Gase, NASCAR Xfinity owner-driver and ambassador for National Keratoconus Foundation.  Joey shared his story of wearing eyeglasses and contacts from an early age and becoming frustrated with frequent vision changes in his 20s.  His eye doctor, unable to improve his vision beyond 20/40, diagnosed keratoconus, the cut-off for participating in NASCAR events.  Gase talked about the impression molded scleral lenses he is now wearing and his efforts to educate fans about KC.  Dr. Barnett and Gase share their experiences with organ, eye and tissue donation for loved ones. 

Monday Jun 12, 2023

Clearly KC host Dr. Melissa Barnett OD and Dr. Jennifer Li MD, professor of ophthalmology from Univ. of California-Davis, and chair of the Eye Bank Association of America, discuss how corneal transplantation is undergoing changes with advances in surgical techniques.  Dr. Li relayed how cornea tissue is prepared and sent to surgeons within days of a donor’s death for implantation.  She reported that those who have undergone transplant for advanced keratoconus can expect to have many years with healthy transplanted tissue and noted the number of corneal transplants for keratoconus has dropped significantly since treatment options like corneal crosslinking and scleral lenses have become more commonplace. 

Friday May 26, 2023

Clearly KC host Dr. Melissa Barnett OD and Dr. Muriel Schornack OD from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester debate if there is such a thing as a keratoconus personality.  Individuals with KC tend to score differently on personality tests, but Dr. Schornack points out that the disease impact often comes in youth or young adulthood where coping mechanisms are not fully developed.  KC can have a profound impact on an individual's ability to navigate life, yet the condition is invisible to observers.  They agreed doctors need to listen and if a patient expresses anxiety or depression, referral to a mental health provider would be appropriate.

Monday May 22, 2023

Clearly KC host Dr. Melissa Barnett OD visits Dr. Marguerite McDonald MD, a legendary clinician scientist.  Dr. McDonald offered her take on impact of age on disease.  She finds that younger patients tend to have more aggressive disease and it is important to treat quickly in order to save vision.  A second group exists with a slow, mild version and many of these older patients only learn of their keratoconus when planning cataract surgery.  Dr. McDonald said these patients generally need no additional treatment as ‘Father Time’ has stabilized their corneas.  Drs. Barnett and McDonald also discuss advances in the crosslinking procedure, and the promise of genetic testing.

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