What is keratoconus?
keratoconus (Ker-uh-toe-KOH-nus) occurs when your cornea — the clear, dome-shaped front surface of your eye — thins and gradually bulges outward into a cone shape.
A cone-shaped cornea causes blurred vision and may cause sensitivity to light and glare. Keratoconus usually affects both eyes and generally begins to first affect people ages 10 to 25. The condition may progress slowly for 10 years or longer.
In the early stages of keratoconus, you can correct vision problems with glasses or soft contact lenses. Later you may have to be fitted with rigid gas permeable contact lenses or other types of lenses. If your condition progresses to an advanced stage, you may need a cornea transplant.
Signs and symptoms of keratoconus may change as the disease progresses. They include:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Increased sensitivity to bright light and glare, which can cause problems with night driving
- A need for frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions
- Sudden worsening or clouding of vision
No one knows what causes keratoconus. These factors can increase your chances of developing keratoconus:
- Having a family history of keratoconus
- Rubbing your eyes vigorously
- Having certain conditions, such as retinitis pigmentosa, Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, hay fever and asthma
Keratoconus treatment depends on your symptoms. When your symptoms are mild, your vision can be corrected with eyeglasses. Later you may need to wear special hard contact lenses to help keep vision in proper focus. Here are other ways that your ophthalmologist might treat keratoconus:
- This is a small curved device that your ophthalmologist surgically puts in your cornea. Intacs help flatten the curve of your cornea to improve vision.
- Collagen cross-linking. Your ophthalmologist uses a special UV light and eye drops to strengthen the cornea. Doing this helps to flatten or stiffen your cornea, keeping it from bulging further.
- Corneal transplant. When symptoms are severe, your ophthalmologist may suggest a corneal transplant. Your ophthalmologist replaces all or part of your diseased cornea with healthy donor cornea tissue.
- Refind transPRK: Refind transPRK is a noninvasive procedure that uses laser energy to change the shape of the cornea. Refind transPRK is a type of customization that focuses on an individual patient’s cornea alone. Refind transPRK can be effective for keratoconus and may help patients avoid or delay keratoplasty. In a study 19 patients with myopic eyes and FFCK, were recruited in a prospective interventional case-series. All of the eyes underwent one-step refined TransPRK by the same refractive surgeon using SCHWIND AMARIS 500 laser. That study demonstrated promising long-term efficacy and safety of refined TransPRK in correction of myopia eyes with FFCK.