Keratoconus

Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For and how to deal with the condition

What Is…

Keratoconus is a condition where the cornea becomes thin and stretched near its center, causing it to bulge forward into a conical shape. As a result vision becomes distorted.Keratoconus does not cause total blindness, however, without treatment it can lead to significant vision impairment. With current treatments now available most patients with keratoconus are able to lead normal lifestyles. Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease, usually affecting both eyes. The degree of progression in each eye is often unequal, and it isn’t unusual for the condition to be significantly more advanced in one eye. The cornea is the clear surface at the front of the eyeball. It refracts the light entering the eye onto the lens, which then focuses it onto the retina.

Signs and Symptoms 

The cause of keratoconus is unknown. However, it is believed to be an inherited condition. Some studies have connected keratoconus with allergies such as asthma and eczema. It has also been found that poorly fitted contact lenses and excessive rubbing of the eye may contribute to the cause.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis

Most people with keratoconus begin to develop the condition in their late teens or early 20’s, with the majority of transplants being performed on patients between 20 – 45 years of age.

Treatment

There are various options for the treatment of keratoconus, including; spectacles/glasses, contact lenses, corneal implants and corneal transplants.

Glasses – In the early stages of keratoconus, glasses are usually successful in correcting the myopia and astigmatism, however as the condition advances the cornea becomes highly irregular and vision is no longer adequately corrected with glasses.

Contact lenses – Contact lenses are used to maintain the regular shape of the cornea, however in 5 – 10% of patients there comes a stage when contact lenses are no longer effective and a corneal transplant is considered.

Contact lenses do not slow down the rate of progression of the conical cornea, however they do give good vision during that period which could not have otherwise be achieved.

Surgery – Corneal transplants have a very high success rate following transplantation, with 98.1% of transplanted corneas surviving the first year, and 97.5% surviving beyond four years

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