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Keratoconus: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

What is Keratoconus and How Does it Affect Vision?

senior woman smilingThe cornea, your eye’s clear outer lens, is usually shaped like a dome. However, in keratoconus, it weakens and bulges outward, resembling a cone. This transformation occurs due to the weakening of collagen fibers in the eye. The cornea loses its ability to maintain its round shape, resulting in a cone-like protrusion.

As the cornea undergoes these shape-altering changes, it disrupts the eye’s ability to focus correctly. This often necessitates the use of corrective lenses like glasses or contact lenses.

However, as the condition progresses, these conventional vision aids may prove insufficient. A corneal transplant is the last resort to restoring vision in severe cases of keratoconus blindness. It’s worth noting that procedures like LASIK, commonly used to correct vision, are unsuitable for individuals with keratoconus and can potentially worsen the condition.

Recognizing the Signs of Keratoconus: Are You at Risk?

  • Irregular Astigmatism: As the cornea changes from its normal dome-like shape to a cone, the surface becomes irregular, leading to astigmatism. This can significantly distort vision.
  • Nearsightedness: The cornea’s outward expansion results in increasing nearsightedness. Objects in the distance appear blurry, and clear vision is achievable only up close.
  • Other Visual Anomalies: Individuals with keratoconus may notice a range of visual abnormalities, including double vision when using one eye, blurred vision at various distances, halos around lights, streaks of light, and the perception of triple ghost images.
  • Driving Difficulty: Blurred vision that hinders the ability to drive safely is a common symptom.

Causes of Keratoconus: What to Watch Out For

Having an understanding of the causes of keratoconus can be helpful. Let’s consider:

  • Genetic Influence: There’s a strong genetic component to keratoconus. If someone in your family has this condition, your risk increases substantially. It’s recommended that children in such families undergo regular eye examinations commencing around the age of 10.
  • Age Variability: Keratoconus typically initiates subtle changes during adolescence, usually in the early teens. However, it can manifest earlier in childhood or remain dormant until one’s 30s. In rarer instances, individuals in their 40s can experience its onset.
  • Associations with Specific Disorders: Some systemic conditions have been linked to keratoconus, including Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta, and retinitis pigmentosa.
  • Inflammatory Factors: Conditions such as allergies, asthma, or atopic eye disease that involve eye inflammation can contribute to the weakening of corneal tissues.
  • Eye Rubbing: Vigorous and repetitive eye rubbing over time can significantly strain the cornea. This is especially pertinent for those already predisposed to keratoconus, as it can accelerate its progression.

Keratoconus diagnosis and Treatment in Chappaqua

Keratoconus diagnosis involves measuring the shape of the cornea. A standard method is corneal topography, which creates a detailed 3D cornea map, helping detect early signs of keratoconus.

Children with a family history of keratoconus should have regular eye exams starting around age 10.

Delving Into the Available Treatment Options:

Treatment varies based on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, new eyeglasses may be adequate to correct vision.

When glasses prove insufficient, rigid gas permeable (RGP) or scleral contact lenses are often recommended. These specialized lenses sit atop the tear film of the eye, assisting in reshaping the cornea and improving vision.

Regular visits to Foresight Eye Care in Chappaqua are crucial to maintain optimal vision.

  • New Eyeglasses: Correct mild cases.
  • Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) or Scleral Contact Lenses: Used when glasses are insufficient.
  • Cornea Collagen Crosslinking: An innovative treatment that can halt the progression of keratoconus by strengthening the corneal structure. Most effective in the early stages.
  • Corneal Transplant: The final option in severe cases involves the replacement of the center of the cornea with a donor cornea. Contact lenses may still be required post-transplant.

Keratoconus Treatment at Foresight Eye Care

Keratoconus can impact vision, but early diagnosis and appropriate intervention can effectively manage this condition. At Foresight Eye Care in Chappaqua, our experienced eye doctors are dedicated to providing comprehensive support throughout your keratoconus journey.

Keratoconus may affect your vision, but it can be managed effectively with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. At Foresight Eye Care in Chappaqua, our experienced eye doctors are here to support you through every stage of your keratoconus journey.