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Keratoconus

 

Keratoconus is a vision disorder that occurs when the normally round cornea (the front part of the eye) becomes thin and irregular (cone) shaped. This abnormal shape prevents the light entering the eye from being focused correctly on the retina and causes distortion of vision.

In its earliest stages, keratoconus causes slight blurring and distortion of vision and increased sensitivity to glare and light. About one in 2,000 people are affected by keratoconus. These symptoms usually appear in the late teens or late 20s. Keratoconus may progress for 10-20 years and then slow in its progression. Each eye may be affected differently. As keratoconus progresses, the cornea bulges more and vision may become more distorted.

Eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may be used to correct the mild nearsightedness and astigmatism that is caused by the early stages for keratoconus. As the disorder progresses and cornea continues to thin and change shape, rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses are required to correct vision adequately. In most cases, this is adequate. The rigid lens masks the underlying irregular cornea and functions as the new refractive surface of the eye, with the tear film filling in the space between the back of the contact lens and the front of the eye. "Rigid" defines the type of lens. "Gas Permeable" describes the lens material. There are many different RGP lens designs.The contact lenses must be carefully fitted, and frequent checkups and lens changes may be needed to treat and stabilize for optimum vision. In a few cases, a corneal transplant is necessary. However, even after a corneal transplant, eyeglasses or contact lenses are often still needed to correct vision. Innovative semi-scleral RGP lenses are changing keratoconus patients lives with better comfort and better vision. Many patients come from out of state to receive Dr. Robertson's expert care.

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Keratoconus Symptoms-What Happens?

Corneal Bulging

The cornea is the clear window of the eye and is responsible for refracting most of the light coming into the ey. Therefore, abnormalities of the cornea severely affect the way we see the world making simple tasks, like driving, watching TV or reading a book difficult. 

In its earliest stages, keratoconus causes slight blurring and distortion of vision and increased sensitivity to light. These symptoms usually first appear in the late teens and early twenties. Keratoconus may progress for 10-20 years and then slow or stabilize. Each eye may be affected differently.

Keratoconus Treatment: What Can Be Done About It?

In the early stages, eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may be used to correct the mild nearsightedness and astigmatism caused in the early stages of keratoconus. As the disorder progresses and the cornea continesto thin and change shape, rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses are generally prescribed to correct vision more adequately. The contact lenses must be carefully fitted, and frequent checkups and lens changes may be needed to achieve and maintain good vision. Intacs, intracorneal rings, are sometimes used to improve contact lens fit.

Corneal crosslinking is a new treatment option under investigation to hault the progression of keratoconus. 

In severe cases, a corneal transplant may be needed due to scarring, extreme thinning or contact lens intolerance. This is a surgical procedure that replaces the keratoconus cornea with healthy donor tissue.

 


   

 

Keratoconus Treatment

 

Getting Help for Keratoconus

Many people who have a basic understanding of eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration have never heard of another, equally debilitating problem called keratoconus. This progressive eye disease causes the cornea to bulge out of it normal spherical shape, causing blurred or distorted vision as well as extreme sensitivity to glare. If you think you are developing this condition, don't panic – Dr. Robertson can give you an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate treatments to help you regain your visual function.

 

 

What exactly does this condition involve? Why does it target certain individuals? Keratoconus occurs when the cornea (the clear, spherical living lens that refracts incoming light so it can be focused and processed by the eye and brain) becomes deformed. Typically the deformation manifests itself as a conical outward bulge. This prevents the cornea from refracting light properly, causing refractive errors that are experienced as:

  • Hypersensitivity to bright lights or glare
  • Blurring or distortion of images
  • "Halos" or other odd visual artifacts in your field of vision
  • Double vision, or a sudden difference in visual acuity between one eye and the other

Keratoconus usually makes its presence known by the age of 25. As to its cause, it seems to be related to the strength of connective tissues in the cornea known as fibrils, which may mean that it has a genetic component. Keratoconus has also been associated with (or aggravated by) constant eye rubbing, oxidative stress, and atopic disorders such as respiratory allergies.

Keratoconus Treatment at Vision Source Mesquite

Fortunately, you don't have to let keratoconus rob you of your eyesight. Our Vision Source Mesquite optometrist, Dr. Rodney Robertson, has many years of experience in the treatment of this eye disorder; he can determine whether you actually have it, what stage it has reached, and what type of treatment makes the most sense for your needs. Diagnostic techniques include the use of slit-lamp testing to visually inspect the cornea for signs of disease, as well as refractive testing to see whether you have astigmatism, a refractive error commonly associated with keratoconus. To get a precise measurement of the degree of corneal deformation, he may shine a light onto the cornea and observe how it's reflected, a technique known as ketatometry. He will also use techniques such as corneal mapping to obtain accurate detailed digital images of your cornea, measuring both its surface features and its thickness.


   

Mild or early stages of keratoconus-related vision problems can be treated with corrective lenses. These may include eyeglasses and contact lenses. More severe cases may require rigid gas-permeable or scleral lenses instead of ordinary soft lenses. New developments in contact lens designs are now affording keratoconus patients’ stable vision with excellent comfort. For more advanced keratoconus, implants called Intacs can help reshape the cornea to allow for more normal vision, while a surgical technique called cross-linking can help strengthen the corneal tissues. Even the most advanced cases can be treated with corneal transplants. Contact Vision Source Mesquite for a consultation today at 972-613-9000.