What Is Keratoconus and How Is It Treated?

What Is Keratoconus and How Is It Treated?

What Is Keratoconus and How Is It Treated?

What Is Keratoconus and How Is It Treated?

March 18, 2022

Keratoconus is a condition that occurs when the eye cornea thins and bulges out in a cone-like shape. This results in blurred vision and can lead to light sensitivity and glare problems. The condition affects both eyes, though it will likely be worse in one eye.


Keratoconus usually affects individuals between 10 and 25 years old. The condition will usually progress for the next 10 years or longer. During the early stages, lenses can correct it. It is vital to understand what keratoconus is and how doctors treat it.


Causes of Keratoconus


It is unclear what causes keratoconus, but it has a relationship with environmental and genetic factors. About one in 10 people with keratoconus have a parent who has the condition. Some risk factors predispose people to the development of keratoconus.


These factors include having:


  • A family history of the condition

  • Down syndrome

  • Retinitis pigmentosa

  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

  • Asthma

  • Hay fever

  • A habit of rubbing the eyes vigorously


Symptoms of Keratoconus


Keratoconus may exhibit different symptoms that tend to change as the disease progresses. The symptoms include distorted or blurred vision and increased light sensitivity. Glare problems and the need for frequent lens prescription changes are also symptoms.


A sudden clouding or worsening of vision can be a symptom of keratoconus. Visit your eye doctor if you experience any symptoms. Early treatment will help prevent the worsening of the condition.


Complications of Keratoconus


If not treated early, keratoconus can lead to serious eye complications. The cornea can swell quickly, reduce vision, and cause cornea scarring. This issue occurs when the inner lining of the cornea becomes damaged, allowing fluid to get into the cornea (hydrops).


In most cases, the swelling will go down by itself, but it may lead to scarring, affecting the vision. Advanced keratoconus causes cornea scarring at the point where the cone becomes prominent. A scarred cornea may worsen sight problems, requiring cornea transplant surgery.


Diagnosing Keratoconus


An eye doctor will carry out an eye exam to diagnose keratoconus. The first step involves reviewing your family and medical history. The doctor will conduct tests to determine the shape and condition of the cornea. The tests include:


  • Eye refraction testing

  • Slit-lamp examination

  • Keratometry

  • Computerized corneal mapping


Treating Keratoconus


Treating keratoconus will depend on the severity of the condition and the rate of disease progression. For treatment, there are two approaches: slowing disease progression and improving the vision. Eye doctors can prescribe corneal collagen cross-linking to stop or slow disease progression.


Eyeglasses and contacts can treat mild or moderate keratoconus. There are different types of contact lenses that treat the condition. In cases where there is scarring, corneal transplant surgery may be necessary. Surgical options include penetrating keratoplasty and deep anterior lamella keratoplasty (DALK).


Regular eye exams can help determine if you have keratoconus. If your eye doctor detects signs of the condition, they will recommend the proper treatment for you.


For more on keratoconus and its treatment, contact Modern iCare Optometry at our office in Palm Desert, California. You can call 760-674-7272 today to schedule an appointment.

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