Keratoconus is a vision disorder affecting the cornea that causes it to bulge outward in an irregular and cone-like shape. This abnormal shape obstructs the light entering the eye from focusing correctly on the retina leading to vision distortion. This condition of the eye can be corrected with glasses or soft contact lenses. One or both eyes can have Keratoconus.
What Causes Keratoconus?
Research studies indicate that keratoconus may be caused by an excess of enzymes that break down the proteins within the corneal surface, causing the cornea to thin and protrude. It is generally believed that keratoconus may be inherited genetically. Keratoconus also is associated with excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, vigorous eye rubbing, poorly fitting contact lenses, and continued eye irritation.
What Are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?
The symptoms of keratoconus are blurred and distorted vision. This eye disease begins to appear in the late teens or early twenties of a person and slowly progresses to an advanced stage. The eyesight may only be slightly affected in the early stages, causing blurred vision, distortion, glare, light sensitivity, and corneal irritation.
As the disorder advances and scars the cornea, the visual distortion will increase. This may cause swelling of the cornea and decreased eyesight. The cornea swells when the elastic portion of the cornea develops a minor crack due to excessive strain. The swelling, known as corneal hydrops, will remain till the crack heals and is gradually replaced by scar tissue.
What Are the Treatments for Keratoconus?
- Gas Permeable Contact Lenses
Glasses or contact lenses can be used to treat the near-sightedness and astigmatism associated with the early stages of keratoconus. As the disease progresses and the cornea changes shape and becomes thin, rigid gas permeable contact lenses can be suggested to adequately correct vision. These lenses are sufficient for most patients suffering from keratoconus. The contact lenses must be fitted carefully, and regular checkups and lens changes may be needed to achieve and maintain good vision.
These tiny plastic inserts are surgically positioned just below the eye's surface in the cornea's periphery and help reshape the cornea for better vision. Intacs may be needed when keratoconus patients can no longer obtain functional vision with contact lenses or eyeglasses.
This is a relatively new procedure that strengthens bonds between connective tissue fibers within the cornea to halt the progression of keratoconus. The cornea's surface layer is gently removed, and the underlying corneal tissue is treated with eye drops of vitamin B2 and then exposed to ultraviolet light for several minutes. Within a few days of the minor in-office treatment, the epithelial layer of the cornea grows back.
The last remedy to treat keratoconus is a cornea transplant, also called penetrating keratoplasty. Most people will still need to wear glasses or contact lenses for clear vision after the transplant.
To get a comprehensive eye exam for keratoconus, visit us at Summerlin Vision in the Las Vegas area or call at (702) 243-8788 to schedule your appointment.