Keratoconus: Understanding the Condition and The Treatments Available to You
Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition in which the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye, becomes thin and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. This irregular shape causes the light entering the eye to scatter, leading to blurred and distorted vision. In severe cases, it can even cause vision loss.
The exact cause of keratoconus is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It typically affects people in their teenage years or early adulthood, and often progresses slowly over several years.
The earliest signs of keratoconus include blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light and glare, and frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription. As the condition progresses, traditional glasses or contact lenses may become ineffective in correcting the vision, and more specialized forms of correction may be necessary.
Diagnosis of keratoconus is made through a comprehensive eye exam that includes measuring the shape and curvature of the cornea, as well as testing visual acuity and checking for other eye problems. In some cases, a corneal topography, which maps the cornea’s shape, may be performed.
Treatment for keratoconus typically starts with the use of eyeglasses or soft contact lenses to correct vision. However, as the condition progresses, custom contact lenses may be necessary to provide functional vision. In severe cases, surgical treatments such as corneal transplantation may be recommended.
Currently there is no treatment for keratoconus, but there is a solution that can slow or stop the progression of the disease. Corneal cross-linking is a procedure that strengthens the cornea that is effective in stopping change in 95% of cases. In this procedure, riboflavin (a type of Vitamin B2) and ultraviolet light are used to stiffen the cornea to prevent the progressive warping.
Corneal transplantation is typically reserved for advanced cases of keratoconus, where the cornea has become so thin and misshapen or scarred that it can no longer be corrected with other treatments. The surgery involves removing the damaged cornea and replacing it with healthy tissue from a donor. Even after corneal transplantation, best vision is usually achieved with the help of a custom contact lens in 1/3 of cases.
It is important to seek prompt treatment if you experience symptoms of keratoconus. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and preserve your vision. If you have a family history of the condition, it is recommended that you have regular eye exams to monitor any changes in your cornea.
In conclusion, keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that can cause significant vision problems if left untreated. However, with the right treatment, it is possible to manage the symptoms and maintain good vision. If you suspect you may have keratoconus, make an appointment with an eye care professional for a comprehensive evaluation.
About the Author: Ojos Del Mar is a world class eye care clinic and eyewear gallery in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. They specialize in comprehensive eye care, dry eye and keratoconus treatment, prescription eyewear, in-house lens finishing, contacts, and custom or hard to fit contacts. To schedule an appointment or learn aout the clinic and their 1:1 eye exam donation program, click here.