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Located by the Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo, MS

Keratoconus Specialist in Tupelo, Mississippi

Keratoconus is a rare, progressive disease that affects the cornea, which is the clear, transparent layer at the front of the eye.

Meet Our Keratoconus Specialist in Tupelo, Mississippi

Dr Joseph Childs

Joseph Childs, M.D. — In Memorium

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the sudden and unexpected passing of Joseph Hyrum Childs, M.D. He is the father of four wonderful children with his wife, Autumn. He was also co-owner of Wesson and Mothershed Eye Center and Bishop of the Tupelo Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, patients, coworkers and employees. A humble disciple of Jesus Christ, to the end he was a covenant maker and a covenant keeper. Heaven’s gain is a painful and shocking loss for all of us. We are truly blessed to have had him as part of our work family.


Dr. Childs is Tupelo’s only fellowship-trained glaucoma specialist and surgeon. He is a native of Texas, and his wife was born and raised in Mississippi. In turn, Dr. Childs fell in love with Mississippi and the people here. Dr. Childs worked at a busy practice in south Mississippi for five years before joining the doctors and Wesson and Mothershed Eye Center in 2020. He is excited to live and practice in Tupelo, serving the people of northeast Mississippi. Dr. Childs attended college for two years at Brigham Young University in Idaho, and he graduated Cum Laude from Texas A&M University as a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. He went on to earn his medical degree from The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, graduated at the top of his class, and elected to the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. Dr. Childs completed a surgical internship and ophthalmology residency at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. During this time, he received multiple awards and recognitions. These include being selected as chief resident and receiving the ‘best resident teacher’ award. He also received numerous awards for research excellence, including the Charles C. Barr award. Dr. Childs also completed his fellowship training in glaucoma at the University of Kentucky. He was made clinical instructor during this time. Dr. Childs has authored and participated in several research papers and projects over the years. Due to his extra training, Dr. Childs is an excellent cataract surgeon and specially trained to care for glaucoma patients. Along with Dr. Miles, he specializes in vision restoration and preservation, offering cataract removal procedures and lens implantation, which includes implantations of standard, toric (astigmatism correcting), and premium lenses. He specializes in glaucoma treatments at the time of cataract removal. Dr. Childs is highly experienced in performing all conventional glaucoma procedures and also offers an array of laser and minimally invasive glaucoma procedures and techniques to help stop or slow the progression of vision loss by reducing the eye pressure and, for many, decreasing medical dependency on eye drops. He is up to date on all the recent and emerging medical, laser, and surgical treatments for glaucoma. In 2019, Dr. Childs was selected as one of Mississippi Business Journal’s Top 50 under 40 business leaders and voted a “top 10 finalist” within that group. He is highly involved with his church and has served and continues to serve in various leadership and teaching positions. Dr. Childs is an Eagle Scout. He is fluent in Spanish as a second language. He served as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for two years (2000-2002) in the western Santiago, Chile area. Dr. Childs loves to spend time with his wife and four children, including attending their various sporting events. During his spare time, he enjoys spending additional time with them outdoors, fishing, and hiking. He is also passionate about landscaping and gardening. Dr. Childs is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Glaucoma Society, and the American Academy of Refractive and Cataract Surgeons. Dr. Childs is board certified by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Chelsea Mothershed McKnight 400

Chelsea Mothershed McKnight, O.D.

Dr. McKnight is a native of Tupelo and graduate of Tupelo High School. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Mississippi, where she was a member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars and The National Society of Leadership and Success. She received her Doctorate of Optometry from Southern College of Optometry, graduating cum laude. Dr. McKnight was the recipient of the Mississippi State Seat Scholarship and a member of Beta Sigma Kappa Honor Society.
Dr. McKnight completed her externship at The Eye Center in Memphis, Tennessee, working with adult and pediatric patients. Her training included treatment and management of glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, dry eye, ocular trauma, and cataract post-operative care. She has worked extensively with patients for fitting of glasses and contact lenses, as well as low vision.
Dr. Sonya Mitchell Miles 266

Sonya Mitchell Miles, M.D.

Dr. Sonya Mitchell Miles is one of a handful of skilled surgeons in the country trained in her unique specialty of Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery.  Dr. Miles graduated Summa Cum Laude from Union University in Jackson, TN. She then received her medical degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine.  Her internship was completed at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, TN.

Dr. Miles finished her Ophthalmology residency at the University of South Carolina.  After completing her residency training, Dr. Miles received specialty training at  The Bassin Center for Plastic Surgery in Florida where she learned cutting edge techniques in eyelid and facial cosmetic surgery.

Dr. Miles is a board certified Ophthalmologist and a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.  She is also author of several journal articles including  “Acquired Ptosis: Classification and Evaluation” in Smith’s Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 3rd edition.  Her practice includes comprehensive eye care, cataract surgery, eyelid surgery, and facial plastic surgery.

She is married to Stephen Miles and her hobbies includes traveling, boating, and exercising.

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Dr. Beth W. Eckard 400

Beth W. Eckard, O.D.

Dr. Beth Waters Eckard is a native of Tupelo, Mississippi and graduated from Tupelo High School.  After finishing her undergraduate studies at the University of Mississippi in 1993, she attended Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee.  Here she completed her Doctorate of Optometry in 1997.  During this time Dr. Eckard completed externships in Low Vision in Arlington, Texas and Private Practice at the Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina.  Her areas of interest are in primary eye care, low vision and the surgical management of cataract patients.

Dr. Beth is a member of First United Methodist Church where she serves on the board of Younger Children's Ministries.  She is also a member of Junior Auxillary which serves the needs of children in Lee County.

She is married to Dr. Dax Eckard who is a practicing eye doctor at Wesson and Mothershed Eye Center.  Dr. Beth practices part-time, and when she is not at the clinic, she can be found actively involved with their children, Massie and Addison.  Outside of the office, Beth enjoys family, travel and taking cooking classes.

Dr. Dax M. Eckard 400

Dax M. Eckard, O.D.

Dr. Dax M. Eckard is a native of Tupelo, Mississippi and graduated from Tupelo High School.  Dr. Eckard finished his Doctorate of Optometry at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee in 1999.  He also completed externships in private practice and referral based surgical management of patients in Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee at the Baptist Eye Institute.  His areas of interest are in primary eye care and disease, specialty contact lens fitting and surgical management of LASIK, cataract and corneal transplant patients.

Dr. Eckard is a member of the American Optometric Association and the Mississippi Optometric Association (MOA). He's the current president of the Mississippi Optometric Association for 2021 and has been on the executive board for the past 6 years. He has served on both the Legislative & Public Relations Committees of the MOA.

Dr. Eckard is one of the partners of Wesson and Mothershed Eye Center. He has been practicing here since 2004 and sees patients Monday through Friday.

On a personal note, Dr. Dax is married to Dr. Beth Eckard who is also a practicing eye doctor at Wesson and Mothershed Eye Center.  They have two daughters, Massie and Addison.  Among his hobbies, Dax enjoys spending time with his family and dog, golfing, hunting and travel, especially to the beach.

Dr. Fred H. Mothershed 400

Fred H. Mothershed, O.D.

Dr. Fred Mothershed is from Tupelo, MS.  He graduated from North Panola High School, attended Northwest Junior College, and the University of Mississippi.  He received his Doctorate of Optometry from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN.  He has postgraduate pharmacology studies from Pennsylvania College of Optometry.

Dr. Mothershed served on the Mississippi State Board of Optometry for 11 years.  He served as secretary/treasurer for two years and president of the State Board for three years.

Dr. Mothershed has practiced primary care optometry in Tupelo since 1976 with special emphasis in contact lenses.  His primary interest is treatment of pathological conditions, especially the management of glaucoma.  Dr. Mothershed is an active member of both the American Optometric Association and the Mississippi Optometric Association.  He has also served the state as a past board member of the Mississippi Optometric Association.

He is married to Dr. Belinda Mothershed, a retired school administrator who now has her own educational consulting firm.  They have two daughters, Olivia Grayson and Chelsea Mothershed.

Dr. Matthew B. Wesson 400

Matthew B. Wesson, M.D. — Emeritus

Matthew Wesson, M.D. is pleased to announce his retirement from Wesson and Mothershed Eye Center as of June 1, 2021. Dr. Wesson, a Tupelo native and board-certified ophthalmologist, practiced for 44 years in Tupelo after practicing for two years in the U.S. Army at Ft. Campbell, KY.

He began practice here in 1977 with his father and brother, and leaves a busy practice that includes two other ophthalmologists, four optometrists, and a Medicare-certified surgery center.

Dr. Wesson states he is blessed to have witnessed and been part of numerous monumental changes in eye surgery and medicine in general.

New and established patients may make appointments by calling (662) 844-3555.


Dr. Wesson is a native of Tupelo who graduated from Milsaps College and attended UMC Medical School in Jackson, Mississippi.  He interned in Denver, Colorado and completed his ophthalmology residency in Jackson, Mississippi as well.  He is board certifiied in ophthalmology and a member of numerous other professional organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery and the International Society of Refractive Surgery of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Wesson served two years in the Army at Fort Campbell and has been in private practice in Tupelo since 1977.  His practice emphasis is in cataract surgery, including the new premium lens implants that allow patients to have improved distance and near vision with less dependance on glasses after cataract surgery.  In his career he has performed over 20.000 cataract surgeries.  Dr. Wesson also enjoys serving others in medical mission trips to underserved areas of Mexico where they perform cataract surgery on patients who have reduced sight or near blindness due to advanced cataracts.  He has also been selected by his peers as one of the best doctors in America, southeast region.

Dr. Wesson is married to Hope Chaney from Louisville, Mississippi.  They have three children, Margaret, Matthew and Betsy.  He is very active in Calvary Baptist Church where he sings in the choir and is a deacon.  As for other hobbies, he currently is president of the board of the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra, a board member of the North Mississippi Knife Collector's Club, and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.

Our Doctor Can Diagnosis and Treat Keratoconus

Your cornea is the transparent, outer lens of your eye, and it typically has a smooth dome shape. Keratoconus describes a condition in which the corneal structure isn’t strong enough to maintain a healthy ball shape.

Meet with our Keratoconus Specialist in Tupelo, Mississippi to define your eye's condition and ways for treatment.

As a result, the cornea bulges outward into more of a cone. Our professional optometric team at our eye care clinic is knowledgeable about how to diagnose and treat keratoconus.

Keratoconus is rare, with an estimated one person out of every 2,000 having the condition. It generally appears in the teenage years and can progress slowly or rapidly.

Keratoconus also runs in families, so if you or your children are at risk, it’s advised to contact us for a thorough eye exam.

Causes of Keratoconus

Your cornea is held in place by very small collagen fibers. When they are weakened and too fragile, they aren’t able to preserve the round shape of your cornea.

A reduction in the protective antioxidants of your cornea, which act to destroy damaging by-products made naturally by corneal cells, is what causes keratoconus.

In addition to genetics, some types of eye injuries may increase your chance of being diagnosed with keratoconus.

Specific ocular diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa, vernal keratoconjunctivitis and retinopathy of prematurity, as well as some systemic conditions (Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Leber's congenital amaurosis and osteogenesis imperfecta) are also associated with this corneal abnormality.

Our Keratoconus Specialist in Tupelo, Mississippi has years of experience identifying the various levels of keratoconus and other corneal conditions.

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Symptoms of Keratoconus

When the shape of your cornea begins to bulge, it alters your eyesight in two different ways. As the cone shape forms, your normally smooth corneal surface becomes wavy, called irregular astigmatism. Additionally, as your cornea expands, vision becomes increasingly nearsighted. Focusing becomes impossible without eyeglasses or contact lenses. Usually, the problems begin in one eye and develop later in the other eye too.

Typically, patient’s eyeglass prescription will change often as the vision becomes worse and contact lenses will be difficult to wear due to discomfort and improper fit.

When keratoconus become more severe (which usually takes a long time however on occasion can happen rather quickly), the cornea can begin to swell and form scar tissue. This scar tissue can result in even further visual distortion and blurred vision.

Altogether, these changes can create the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Streaking of lights
  • Halos around bright lights at night; glare
  • Sudden change of vision in only one eye
  • Objects appear distorted, both near and distant
  • Double vision from just one eye
  • Triple ghost images

cornealtopography girl

How We Diagnose Keratoconus

Our eye doctors will inspect carefully for the signs of keratoconus during your comprehensive eye exam. It’s critical to inform us of any symptoms that you’ve been experiencing. To diagnose the condition, we’ll measure the shape of your cornea. Computerized Corneal Topography is used for this procedure, which takes a picture of your cornea and analyzes it instantly.

Treatment for Keratoconus

The first line of treatment is usually new prescription eyeglasses. If this solution doesn’t help you achieve good vision, then contact lenses will be tried. Rigid, gas permeable lenses are typically prescribed.

As the disease progresses, however, glasses and soft contact lenses may no longer correct vision and soft lenses may become uncomfortable. This is when other forms of vision correction will be recommended.

Gas Permeable and Scleral Contact Lenses

At the more advanced stage of keratoconus rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses, scleral or semi-scleral lenses may be used for increased comfort and visual acuity. Since they are more rigid, RGP and scleral lenses are able to create a smooth, round shape around the cornea, creating a smoother surface for better vision.

Scleral or semi-scleral lenses have a larger diameter which covers the entire cornea and reaches over into the white part of the eye, which is known as the sclera.

Many patients find these more comfortable than regular RGPs and find that they move around less when the eyes move. The main disadvantage of these rigid lenses is that for some, they are somewhat less comfortable than soft lenses and they must be continually refitted as the shape of the eye changes.

Whether it is glasses or contact lenses being used to correct vision, patients will likely have to undergo many tests and prescription changes as their vision needs to change.


Intacs are small, surgically implanted plastic inserts which are placed on the cornea to flatten it back to shape. Usually they are able to restore clear vision, with the continued use of glasses. Intacs are often recommended when contact lenses and eyeglasses are no longer able to correct vision adequately. Intacs take about 10 minutes to insert and can delay the need for corneal transplant.

PTK for severe keratoconus

Severe keratoconus may lead to extreme scarring, due to overstretched collagen fibers. If the back of your corneas tears as a result, swelling may occur. It can take months for the swelling to go down, and a large scar is generally created. PTK, a specialized procedure, can smooth out this scar, thereby enhancing contact lens comfort.

Cornea collagen crosslinking

Cornea collagen crosslinking is another therapy that has shown to be effective in slowing the progression of keratoconus. An alternate remedy is called intacs, which are semicircular implants inserted under the surface of the cornea to flatten the bulging cone shape and give better vision.

Cornea Transplant

As a last resort, a cornea transplant may be performed. During this procedure, the center of your cornea will be removed and replaced with a donor cornea. The new cornea is stitched into place, and you’ll need to wear contact lenses for adequate vision after the surgery.

Dangers of LASIK and Keratoconus

LASIK can potentially weaken the cornea of anyone who suffers from keratoconus, making it a dangerous procedure. If this happens, your vision will become substantially worse. Even if your keratoconus is mild, LASIK is not an option.

Our Keratoconus Specialist in Tupelo, Mississippi is happy to meet with you for a 1-on-1 consultation to get you back on the path to reaching clear vision.

Meet with Our Keratoconus Specialist in Tupelo, Mississippi