Keratoconus is one of the many diseases that can cause poor visual acuity. It is a progressive disease and in this article we will take a look at some basic information about it and how you can treat it.
What exactly is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a disease that affects the front surface of the eye called cornea. This is due to degradation of its central part - the stroma - which leads to it's thinning and eventually making it bulge out and look like a cone. This is also where the name of the disease originates from.
This progressive eye disease is relatively hard to diagnose in its early stages. It's severity can vary, but regardless of it, Keratoconus is a bilateral disease and it affects both eyes. It's progress between the two eyes usually varies, by first starting in one eye and advancing, while the other one can become affected much later.
Keratoconus can occur at a very young age up to late teenage years, but it can also appear in older people as well.. It is also estimated to affect about 1 out of 500 people, which makes it relatively common. The causes for this condition can be of both environmental and genetic origin, though genetic ones seem to be much more rare.
What are the symptoms of Keratoconus?
Keratoconus shares similar symptoms with many other eye diseases. They also largely depend on the severity of the disease. Some of them for milder cases are:
- Blurriness is the most common symptom - Sensitivity to light
- Eyes get easily irritated
If left undetected and untreated, it progresses and leads to a bigger visual impairment. Medium or advanced Keratoconus can include, but not limited to:
- Very distorted vision
- You will have a tough time sticking with the same pair of glasses for a long time due to constant changes in your vision.
What treatments for Keratoconus are available?
When it comes to the mild variations of the disease, most of the time glasses or different types of medication will be enough to regulate it and maintain a good vision. There are also various types of lenses that can help you with your vision issues.
Your eye specialist will be monitoring the situation with you and will eventually prescribe a different treatment if the state of your eyes worsens. Here are some of the solutions for cases which are more advanced:
1. One of the treatments available is corneal cross linking, which is meant to strengthen the cornea. This type of treatment can slow down significantly or even stop the progression of Keratoconus. Medicines containing a mixture of vitamin B and other ingredients are put on your eye. Then UV light is used to strengthen the mixture and your cornea as a result.
2. Another method involves implanting a plastic ring in your cornea. That would help keep your cornea in the right shape and can significantly improve your vision.
3. In the most severe cases, where the cornea has degraded to a point where it is scarring the eye, patients might need to get corneal transplant. It is estimated that around 10% of the people who have the condition, eventually require this step.
While it is not completely certain whether rubbing your eye can cause Keratoconus, it could definitely damage your eye if you are rubbing it when you already have the condition. Rubbing your eye can accelerate the thinning of the cornea once you already have the condition and it could potentially lead to a scarring if the layer is already too thin.
Just like any other eye condition, visiting your eye specialist once or twice a year, can help detect and mitigate a lot of the possible damage and help you live a normal life even with Keratoconus.