Have you recently found out that you have keratoconus? Keratoconus is an eye condition that occurs when the cornea becomes too thin and starts bulging out like a cone, affecting your ability to see.
If you have keratoconus, the good news is that treatment options are available. Keep reading to learn more!
What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus affects the cornea of the eye. Your cornea is the clear, dome-shaped “window” on the surface of the eye. It allows light to enter the eye and is vital to see. Keratoconus is an eye condition where the usually round cornea becomes thin and bulges, forming a front-facing cone shape. The cone shape interferes with how light refracts towards your retina, distorting the images you see.
While keratoconus affects both eyes, the severity of the condition is different in each eye. Keratoconus often starts in the teenage years and gradually worsens over 10 to 20 years. But in some cases, the condition progresses very quickly.
Symptoms of Keratoconus
The first symptom you’ll notice if you have keratoconus is blurry vision. Other symptoms include:
- Eye pain
- Eye irritation
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Excessive glare
- Eye swelling
- Distorted vision that makes straight lines appear wavy or bent
You may experience frequent prescription changes in the later stages due to progressive nearsightedness. You may find it too uncomfortable to put in contacts as they may not fit properly anymore.
It’s essential to see your eye doctor if you have these symptoms. Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms as well as observations and measurements of your corneas.
Causes of Keratoconus
Eye doctors still don’t know the actual cause of keratoconus. However, it’s thought that environmental and genetic factors are involved.
About 1 in 10 individuals with keratoconus have a parent with the eye condition too.
Risk Factors of Keratoconus
The following factors can make you more likely to develop keratoconus, including:
- Having a family history of keratoconus
- Overexposure to UV rays from the sun
- Excessively rubbing the surface of the eye
- Wearing poorly fitting contacts that irritate the eye
- Having certain conditions like asthma, hay fever, Down syndrome, and retinitis pigmentosa
Keratoconus Treatment Options
There are different treatment options for keratoconus. Depending on how severe your condition is, your eye doctor may recommend the following treatments:
Changing your prescription can help correct keratoconus in its early stages. Your eye doctor will continue to monitor any changes to your eyes.
Soft Contact Lenses
Some soft contact lenses are custom-made to address keratoconus in mild to moderate stages.
Scleral Contact Lenses
These are larger, rigid contacts that rest on the sclera (white part) of the eye. They are sometimes used to hold the shape of your cornea in place. Keeping the cornea in place allows light to refract correctly.
Intacs or corneal ring segments are tiny pieces of polymer implanted into your cornea to help maintain its shape.
Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL)
Corneal cross-linking is a treatment for patients with progressive keratoconus and corneal ectasia. During corneal cross-linking, an eye doctor places vitamin B2 drops in the eye and activates them using UV light.
This stiffens and strengthens your corneal tissue.
Approximately 10 to 20 percent of patients with keratoconus require a corneal transplant. A corneal transplant involves replacing a diseased cornea with a functioning donor cornea.
After the procedure, you may still need contacts or glasses for clear vision. There is no cure for keratoconus, but there are ways to possibly slow the progression, making it essential to see your eye doctor for regular eye exams.
Are you looking for more information about keratoconus? Schedule an appointment with one of our eye doctors at VisionPoint Eye Center in Bloomington, IL, today!