Keratoconus is the technical term that has been given to a progressive eye disease that occurs when the normally round cornea is much too thin and becomes misshapen as it begins to bulge and become more cone shaped than bowl-shaped. This cone shape affects how the eye sees things as it deflects and keeps it from entering the retina properly. This affects how the eyes see images and how the brain, in turn, interprets them, thus causing distorted vision. Keratoconus may happen in one or both eyes, can happen in both at the same time or start in one and then in the other, and the condition often starts when someone is in their teens or early20s. Because it is a progressive disease that worsens over time, it is important to know the warning signs and to work with your health care provider or optometrist to make sure you are doing everything you can to protect your eyes. Having keratoconus requires receiving keratoconus treatments.
Keratoconus symptoms and signs
As the condition worsens and the cornea becomes more irregular, visual disturbances and changes are detected. Common side effects include progressively worsening near-sightedness as well as the development of what is known as irregular astigmatism. These and other related conditions associated with the disorder can lead to distorted and blurred vision as well as glare and light sensitivity issues. Often,keratoconus patients experience changes in their eyeglass prescription each time they go for their yearly visits because of the rapid deterioration and change of their cornea.
What causes keratoconus?
Constant research is being done into the causes and effects of keratoconus and new studies suggest the weakening of the corneal tissue, the primary cause of keratoconus in the first place, may occur because of an imbalance of enzymes and other elements within the cornea itself. This imbalance causes the cornea to suffer the effects of oxidative damage and to be more susceptible to toxins known as free radicals. This damage causes the cornea to weaken and bulge forward, thus creating the visual disturbances see with this condition. Patients suffering from these symptoms need specialized keratoconus treatments in order to regain healthy and normal vision.
Risk factors for this kind of damage and weakening of the cornea are believed to largely be genetic in nature. This explains why research has shown a strong connection between familial instance of keratoconus. It is also believed that prolonged and overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, as well as excessive eye rubbing, improper use of contact lenses, severe allergies, chronic eye irritation, and other issues affecting overall eye health can make one more prone to developing keratoconus.
Common keratoconus treatments used today
Thankfully, when it is caught early enough, there are some things that can be done to correct minor distortion of the cornea and protect against further damage caused by keratoconus. The three most common options for treatment are:
Contact Lenses– there are several types of lenses that can be used to help reshape the cornea and keep in place and in the proper shape.
Surgery- laser surgery can be done to repair minor damage and help itregain its normal shape and to minimize the effects of keratoconus damage.
Corneal Transplants– in cases where the damage has become severe, and other treatments are not a valid answer, a corneal transplant may be needed.
It is important to take care of your eyes, and working closely with your health care providers is the best way to do this. Mention any changes in your vision and any other concerns you may have.keratoconus can be addressed when it is caught early so stay vigilant and be proactive and talk to your doctor about whether keratoconus treatments are right for you!