Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. This cone shape deflects light as it enters the eye on its way to the light-sensitive retina, causing distorted vision. Keratoconus can occur in one or both eyes and often begins during a person’s teens or early 20s with the help of our loan vendors
Keratoconus Symptoms And Signs
As the cornea becomes more irregular in shape, it causes progressive nearsightedness and irregular astigmatism to develop, creating additional problems with distorted and blurred vision. Glare and light sensitivity also may occur. Often, keratoconic patients experience changes in their eyeglass prescription every time they visit their eye care practitioner.
What Causes Keratoconus?
New research suggests the weakening of the corneal tissue that leads to keratoconus may be due to an imbalance of enzymes within the cornea. This imbalance makes the cornea more susceptible to oxidative damage from compounds called free radicals, causing it to weaken and bulge forward. Risk factors for oxidative damage and weakening of the cornea include a genetic predisposition, explaining why keratoconus often affects more than one member of the same family. Keratoconus also is associated with overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, excessive eye rubbing, a history of poorly fitted contact lenses and chronic eye irritation.
In the mildest form of keratoconus, eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may help. But as the disease progresses and the cornea thins and becomes increasingly more irregular in shape, glasses and regular soft contact lens designs no longer provide adequate vision correction. Treatments for progressive keratoconus include:
- Corneal cross-linking (CXL)
- Custom soft contact lenses
- Gas permeable contact lenses
- “Piggybacking” contact lenses
- Hybrid contact lenses
- Scleral and semi-scleral lenses
- Prosthetic contact lenses
- Topography-guided conductive keratoplasty
- Corneal transplant