Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory eye condition that causes vision problems for those patients that experience it. To help you understand this fairly uncommon but no less debilitating eye condition, we have put together this list of frequently asked questions about keratoconus and their answers.
Keratoconus is a condition in which the usually dome-shaped front part of the eye, called the cornea, becomes progressively thinner, causing a cone-like bulge to develop. The result of this bulge is that light is refracted incorrectly through the eye, causing significant visual impairment. This can make even simple day to day activities such as reading, watching tv, or driving difficult or impossible.
Keratoconus usually develops fairly slowly over the course of 5-10 years before stabilizing. However, in rare cases, the cornea will thin much more quickly before then stopping. In either case, a solution to correct your vision will be necessary.
Experts still aren’t sure exactly why some people develop keratoconus and others don’t. One thing that has been found is that it may be more likely to run in families, and is more prone to affect patients who have previously suffered a trauma to their eye.
Like the condition itself, the symptoms of keratoconus are progressive. This means that they may develop very slowly and subtly at first, with the initial indicators of the condition being a slight blurring and distortion of patient vision. You may also notice increased sensitivity to light and glare, and it may become more difficult to drive at night because of this. As the condition progresses, patients may also experience symptoms such as headaches, eye strain, and eventually, a sudden clouding of their vision in one eye that then clears over a period of weeks or months. Patients may also find that if they have a prescription for glasses or contact lenses, this changes fairly rapidly.
In the vast majority of cases, keratoconus does affect both eyes, although not always to the same degree in each. This means that your keratoconus could go undetected for some time unless you see your eye doctor for regular check-ups. Keratoconus may also not progress at the same rate in each eye, causing further variations.
Although keratoconus can have a significant effect on your vision, it very rarely causes total blindness. Patients are advised to consider one of the different treatment options available to restore their eyesight so that they can continue to enjoy their usual daily activities.
Unfortunately, LASIK is not recommended for patients with keratoconus. This is because LASIK uses corneal thinning to correct refractive eye errors. Since keratoconus is already a corneal thinning condition, undergoing LASIK could cause the cornea to weaken even more, which could actually speed up the progression of keratoconus.
There are a variety of different treatments for progressive keratoconus. Exactly which is right for you will depend on your individual circumstances and your eye doctor will be able to make a recommendation. Some of the options available include the following:
- Custom soft contact lenses
- Gas-permeable contact lenses
- Scleral and semi-scleral contact lenses
- Hybrid contact lenses
- Corneal cross-linking, which is a surgical treatment that strengthens the fibers of the cornea so that the bulge is contained
In some instances, it may be necessary for you to try several different treatments to find the variety that works best for you.
If you have further questions about keratoconus, or if you have concerns about your eyes, please don’t hesitate to contact our expert eye care team today.