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Keratoconus Treatment Options and Diagnosis

Keratoconus is an eye condition where the front clear dome or cornea becomes distorted. The cornea helps to focus light into your eyes to produce the images you see. Keratoconus commonly begins during the teenage years and further affects vision into the twenties. People with the condition are affected when the cornea thins and distorts, often into a cone-like shape. Keratoconus tends to cause blurry and distorted vision, making it difficult to complete daily tasks like reading and driving. If you have been wondering how to control keratoconus, then read on to learn the causes and the various keratoconus treatments available.

 

Causes of Keratoconus

Keratoconus has a known genetic basis with about a 1 out of 10 chance that a relative will also have the condition as well.  Tiny fibers in the cornea called collagen hold the cornea in its position. In keratoconus, molecular bonds between these fibers weaken and fail to maintain the cornea shape properly, leading to the irregularity of the corneal surface. There may be other factors, like eye rubbing, which contribute to the disease severity and progression.

 

Severity of Keratoconus

Keratoconus affects both eyes. However, one eye gets impacted more than the other.

  • Mild stage: Mild blurring and distortion of vision, is often successfully treated with glasses and soft contact lenses.
  • Moderate stage: Even with updated glasses, vision is compromised.  Rigid surface contact lenses are needed to restore functional vision.
  • Severe stage: Scarring of the cornea blocks a significant amount of vision, even with optimally prescribed contact lenses.  Corneal transplantation can replace the scarred tissue with a transparent, donated clear cornea.

It can take years for keratoconus to progress from mild to severe stages although many cases self-arrest in the mild to moderate stage.

 

Diagnosis of Keratoconus

A skilled optometrist can diagnose keratoconus during clinical examination. Diagnostic clues include measuring the best vision with an updated eyeglass prescription, corneal topography, and evaluating the cornea microscopically for specific features that characterize keratoconus.

 

What are the Keratoconus Treatment Options? 

The most appropriate keratoconus treatment options depend upon your symptoms and individual considerations.  This is often best determined through working with your qualified optometrist at ReVision Optometry.

 

Prescription Eyeglasses and Soft Contact Lenses

With mild keratoconus, your optometrist may prescribe glasses and soft contact lenses to restore vision successfully.

 

Rigid-Surface Contact Lenses

These are the gold standard for restoring vision in keratoconus by way of creating an artificial smooth light-bending surface.  The latest advances include hybrid contact lenses that have a rigid center but soft skirt, and scleral contact lenses, which are large diameter rigid lenses the size of a nickel to a quarter.

 

Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking 

This surgery uses a unique UV light and riboflavin to create new molecular bonds between the collagen fibers in the cornea.  This procedure can slow or halt the progression of this condition during adolescence to the twenties, but after the progressive years may not offer compelling value.

 

INTACS

INTACS are small curved lens-like inserts that get surgically placed within your cornea. This device helps to flatten and smooth out the cornea and can improve your vision.

 

Corneal Transplant

This is an end-of-the-line treatment when all other options are exhausted. A corneal surgeon can perform either a partial thickness or full thickness cornea transplant, where the damaged cornea gets replaced with healthy corneal tissue from a donor.

Talk to your optometrist at ReVision Optometry about the best keratoconus treatment for you.

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