While keratoconus is less well known than glaucoma, cataracts, astigmatisms, and other eye conditions, it is useful to be informed about this condition. Keratoconus is found in about 1 in every 1,000 people and effects people from many different ethnic backgrounds, geographic regions, and walks of life.
Here’s what you should know:
What Is Keratoconus?
The cornea is the outer lens of the eye that people see through. The cornea is normally dome shaped. Sometimes the cornea cannot hold this round shape and it bulges out like a cone—this condition is called keratoconus.
Keratoconus is relatively rare, but it is usually diagnosed in young adolescents.
What Causes Keratoconus?
The cornea produces some byproducts that can harm the rest of the eye. These byproducts are normally eliminated by protective antioxidants. When antioxidants are too low, these byproducts can damage the collagen fibers that help the eye keep its intended structure.
Keratoconus can run in families, so if you’ve had this condition in the past, it might be wise to have your children checked as they approach adolescence.
What Are Common Symptoms?
Common symptoms of keratoconus include:
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Streaks in vision
- Seeing multiple images at once
- Distorted vision
- Headaches and eye irritation
- Halos around lights (especially at night)
What Treatments Are Available?
If you suspect that you or your child has keratoconus it is important to see an eye doctor for treatment. When possible, it is wise to seek out a practice like Roholt Vision Institute that specializes in treating keratoconus.
There are a few treatment options available. Your eye doctor can help you choose a treatment plan that is best for you.
Common treatments include:
- Intacs: Intacs are small clear inserts that are placed inside the eye to correct vision and hold the cornea in place. Intacs are removable and may delay the progression of keratoconus. This procedure is FDA approved and it is less invasive than corneal transplant.
- Collagen Cross Linking: This promising procedure is not yet FDA approved, but it has the potential to slow the progression of the disease.
- Surgery: When less invasive treatments are ineffective, it may be necessary to perform corneal transplant surgery. In this case, a donor cornea replaces the damaged cornea. Afterward the patient often wears corrective lenses.
Keratoconus can be frustrating to live with, but there are options—see an eye doctor as soon as possible to learn more.