Keratoconus - What Do You Need to Know About It?

Keratoconus is one of the many diseases that can cause poor visual acuity. 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 progressive 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 its thinning and eventually makes it bulge out and look like a cone. This is also where the name of the disease originates from.

This condition is relatively hard to diagnose in its early stages. Its severity can vary, but regardless of it, keratoconus is a bilateral disease, which means it affects both eyes. Its 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 or 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.

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, as it can accelerate the thinning of the cornea and it could potentially lead to a scarring if the layer is already too thin.

What Are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?

Keratoconus shares similar symptoms with many other eye diseases. They also largely depend on the severity of the condition. Some of them for milder cases are:

  • Blurred vision, this 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. The symptoms of medium or advanced keratoconus can include, but are not limited to:

  • Very distorted vision.
  • Constant changes in your vision which make it difficult to use the same pair of glasses for a long time.

What Treatments Are Available for Keratoconus?

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 treatments for more advanced cases:

  1. One of the treatments available is corneal cross linking, which is meant to strengthen the cornea. This type of treatment can significantly slow down or even stop the progression of keratoconus. Medicines containing a mixture of vitamin B and other ingredients are applied to 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. It helps 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 a corneal transplant. It is estimated that around 10% of the people who have the condition eventually require one.

In Conclusion

Just like with 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.

Certain visual aids can help make living with keratoconus easier, such as filter sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare and excessive brightness.