It's not always clear why some people develop keratoconus. It's an eye disease that occurs when the cornea becomes much thinner and bulges out in a cone-like shape. But experts believe keratoconus is caused by a weakness in the collagen fibers responsible for maintaining the even dome shape of the cornea. When the cornea is affected by keratoconus, the irregular shape impacts the way light is bent. This causes distorted vision. Many patients don't immediately realize they have the condition until their eye doctor picks it up during one of their routine eye exams. The good news is there are several ways to manage keratoconus. The best treatment options are specialty contact lenses, such as:
- Soft Contact Lenses. Most eye doctors recommend the use of soft contacts to help improve the vision of patients diagnosed with keratoconus. They wrap around your eye, so they don't always provide the best vision correction. But they're extremely comfortable to wear. These soft contacts specially designed to treat keratoconus are slightly thicker compared to regular soft contacts to retain their shape. They remain steady on the optical surface, maintaining stability and clear vision. Their placement also puts gentle pressure onto your cornea, holding it in a more regular shape.
- Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses. This is another widely used contact lens for addressing vision problems caused by keratoconus. The rigidity of the lenses allows them to hold their shape properly, providing better control over the protrusion of the cornea. RGP contacts are known to correct the highest degrees of nearsightedness and astigmatism that often accompany keratoconus. It can also promote eye health by perfectly passing oxygen to the cornea. This keeps your eyes hydrated and comfortable.
- Hybrid and Piggyback Contact Lenses. These designs combine soft and RGP lenses. It aims to provide the former's comfort and the latter's efficiency at improving visual acuity. Hybrid contacts have a rigid lens at the center surrounded by a soft lens. They're an excellent option for treating mild to moderate cases of keratoconus. Piggyback contacts, on the other hand, involve fitting a rigid lens on top of the soft lens. Sometimes, the RGP contacts couldn't remain centered properly to improve vision. In these cases, it's best to use both rigid and soft contact lenses simultaneously.
- Scleral Contact Lenses. These specialty RGP contact lenses are larger in diameter than regular RGP contacts. This allows scleral contacts to vault over the white part of the eye, correcting the broad areas of the distorted cornea. In effect, it eliminates much of the refractive errors. In general, scleral contacts provide the best fit, comfort, as well as visual acuity for keratoconus patients. Besides keratoconus, scleral contacts can also treat other eye problems like dry eye syndrome.
Specialty contact lenses can help keep your vision in proper focus. Other treatments for keratoconus include the use of Intacs or collagen cross-linking. But when your symptoms are so severe, a corneal transplant may be the only viable option to restore your quality of life.
Have you been experiencing mild blurring vision or increased sensitivity to light? Maybe you've noticed the redness of your eyes and swelling around them. If so, you may have keratoconus. Don't wait for your symptoms to get worse. Visit TMS Eyecare today for a comprehensive eye examination. Schedule your appointment now at any of our two offices in Wichita or Arkansas City, Kansas.