Many people suffer from blurry vision or have some difficulty seeing at night. But did you know that these are some of the common signs of an eye disease called Keratoconus?
This blog, will give you a rundown of:
- What this disease
- Signs to look out for
- How it’s diagnosed
What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a rare ocular condition that damages your cornea, ultimately affecting the clarity of your vision. A healthy cornea is supposed to focus light that enters the eye, allowing for a clear perception of the world around you. When an individual has Keratoconus, the cornea of their eyes becomes thinner. In turn, the thinning can cause a cone-shaped bulge to develop, leading to high degrees of astigmatism and possible vision loss.
Patients with keratoconus typically suffer a loss of collagen in the cornea. According to John Hopkins Medicine, that may be caused by an “imbalance between the production and destruction of corneal tissue by the corneal cells.”
What causes Keratoconus?
While the definitive cause isn’t currently known, there are multiple factors that increase the risk of developing eye Keratoconus, such as:
- Age: Keratoconus has been found to mostly affect individuals in their teens and early twenties
- Genetics: You’re at a higher risk of developing Keratoconus if someone in your family had or has Keratoconus
- Eye rubbing: If you rub your eyes excessively, you have a greater chance of suffering from Keratoconus as this weakens the cornea over time. Also, continually rubbing your eyes can cause disease progression
- Eye inflammation: You have a higher likelihood of developing Keratoconus if you have chronic eye inflammation from allergies or exposure to irritants
What are the symptoms of Keratoconus?
There are many symptoms of Keratoconus eye disease, such as:
- Mildly blurred vision or vision that cannot easily be corrected with prescription lenses (these are the earliest two symptoms)
- Significant progression of near-sightedness and/or astigmatism
- Trouble seeing at night
- Glare and halos around lights
How Is Keratoconus Diagnosed?
Keratoconus can be detected in a comprehensive eye exam. Your eye doctor will most likely perform the various tests to diagnose the disease, including:
- Pachymetry: This simple, ultrasonic test allows your doctor to measure the thinnest areas of the cornea
- Corneal topography: Corneal topography is a digital tool that creates a three-dimensional map of the surface curvature of the cornea. It’s known to be the most accurate way of diagnosing early keratoconus and following its progression
- Slit-lamp exam: This is the most common and simple way to examine the ocular surface and cornea. A slit lamp is a microscope with a bright light that enables your eye doctor to detect abnormalities in the outer and middle layers of the cornea
These tests are all painless and don’t take long to complete. Your eye specialist will walk you through each step.
But what happens if you do have Keratoconus?
While this may be much easier said than done, please try not to worry. There are treatments available, and your specialist will decide which route is best for you.
Treatments for Keratoconus
The primary goal of Keratoconus treatment is to correct your vision. The type of treatment used depends on the severity of your condition. Often this includes rigid contact lenses.
In early cases of Keratoconus, Cross-Linking is the go-to treatment choice. Cross-Linking is an FDA-approved minimally invasive outpatient procedure that takes only 60-90 minutes. It involves a combination of riboflavin eye drops and UVA light to build new corneal cross-links, which strengthens the collagen fibers in your eye and stiffens the corneas.
When the Keratoconus is more advanced, a corneal transplant is the only option. When a patient receives a corneal transplant, that entails having a donor cornea replace the damaged cornea. This procedure is commonly performed on an outpatient basis and takes roughly an hour to complete. Medication must be taken after undergoing the transplant to prevent transplant rejection. Most patients who receive a corneal transplant often need to wear rigid contacts after the surgery to have optimal vision.
If you or a loved one may be suffering from Keratoconus, please contact us. Our cornea specialists have had extensive training and can determine the best course of action for your eyes’ condition.
Request an appointment today!