Keratoconus is a condition that occurs when the cornea thins and bulges out into a cone shape. The cornea is the clear front surface of the eye that appears dome-shaped. The cone shape can lead to blurred vision and can result in light and glare sensitivity.
Keratoconus often affects both eyes, but one eye is usually worse than the other. The condition generally affects individuals from the ages of 10 to 25. Slow progression may occur for the next 10 years or longer.
Treatment of Keratoconus
During the early stages of keratoconus, the patient can correct the vision issues through the use of glasses or contact lenses. As the disease progresses, the patient will need special contact lenses. Gas permeable, rigid lenses and scleral lenses can help. If the disease gets to an advanced stage, the patient may require a cornea transplant.
The treatment known as corneal collagen cross-linking can help to halt or slow down the progression of keratoconus. This relatively new treatment can help to prevent the need for a cornea transplant in the future.
Symptoms of Keratoconus
The symptoms of keratoconus will often change as the disease progresses. Some common symptoms include distorted or blurred vision, increased light and glare sensitivity, and clouding or worsening of vision.
If you find yourself needing to change your eyeglass prescription frequently, it may be due to keratoconus. If your eyesight is becoming worse very rapidly, it is important to visit an eye doctor.
Causes and Risk Factors
The causes of keratoconus are not known, but it is believed that environmental and genetic factors are involved. About 10 percent of people who have keratoconus have one parent who has the condition. Risk factors for developing the condition include rubbing the eyes vigorously, eye inflammation, and a family history of the disease.
People with certain health conditions have a higher risk of developing keratoconus. These conditions include:
- Down syndrome
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Retinitis pigmentosa
- Hay fever
Keratoconus is usually diagnosed after measuring the shape of the cornea. There are several ways to take the measurements, but the most common one is corneal topography. The eye doctor will take a photo of the cornea before examining it closely. Children who have parents with the condition should get a regular checkup for keratoconus from the time they are 10 years old.
Complications of Keratoconus
In some cases, the cornea can swell quickly, causing sudden reduction of vision and cornea scarring. This happens when the lining on the inside of the cornea breaks, allowing entry of fluid into the cornea. The swelling will usually subside on itself, but it can result in the formation of a scar. The formation of a scar affects the vision. It is important to get treatment for keratoconus before it becomes advanced.
At an advanced stage, keratoconus can cause scarring of the cornea at the point where the cone is most pronounced. If the condition becomes severe, it will usually require surgery for a cornea transplant. Cornea transplants are usually quite successful, and they can help to restore the patient’s vision. During surgery, the doctor will remove the damaged part of the cornea replacing it with one from a donor.
To know more about keratoconus, visit Eye Luv Lucy Optometry at our office in San Jose, California. You can call (408) 294-9900 today to schedule an appointment.