9 Treatment Options for a Person with Keratoconus
Keratoconus is a progressive eye disorder in which the cornea, which is usually round, begins to thin and change shape. As the cornea weakens and thins, it will bulge into a conical shape. Keratoconus typically affects both eyes, impacting one eye with greater severity than the other. While environmental factors contribute to the onset of this disease, significant evidence shows that it can also be genetic. Keratoconus in its mildest form will often go undetected, and the disorder’s rate of progression is different in each case. However, as the cornea’s shape becomes more distorted, it causes blurred and decreased vision and light sensitivity.
Two main objectives in the treatment of keratoconus are to slow the progression of the disease and provide optimal vision correction. With these goals in mind, here is a breakdown of the best treatments that have been successful in stabilizing the disease and restoring visual acuity:
- Corneal collagen crosslinking has proven to be an effective treatment used to strengthen the cornea and prevent further progression of Keratoconus. This minimally invasive procedure has been used globally with remarkable results over the past decade. It works to strengthen the collagen bonds with eyedrop medication and ultraviolet (UV) light from a special machine to produce a firmer cornea that doesn’t bulge outward. It can also help prevent the need for future corneal transplant surgery.
- Soft contact lenses can correct vision impairment during the early stages of Keratoconus. However, patients may find that they need frequent prescription adjustments depending on the disease’s rate of progression.
- RGP or rigid gas permeable contact lenses are an excellent option for patients who aren’t getting the best level of vision correction they desire using eyeglasses or soft contact lenses. This often happens as keratoconus progresses, and the corneal shape becomes increasingly misshapen. These hard lenses vault over the cornea and create a smooth, light refracting surface to improve vision. Unlike most other contact lenses, rose-K contact lenses are a type of RGP contact lens designed to fit very well over an irregular eye shape. These lenses are made using a digital design process to provide a perfectly shaped lens for each patient. Rose-K lenses have become a popular option for correcting corneal irregularities, and they can effectively treat patients with any stage of keratoconus.
- Hybrid contact lenses offer the comfort of a soft contact lens with the sharper vision correction and durability of a hard contact lens. Many find hybrid lenses easier and more comfortable for patients who have trouble wearing hard contact lenses. They also prefer the clear, crisp vision that RGP lenses provide and can still be achieved with hybrid contact lenses.
- Scleral lenses are an excellent option for patients living with keratoconus. Scleral lenses are RGP lenses that are custom measured to fit each eye with precision accuracy. The space between the corneal surface and the scleral lens is filled with a sterile saline solution that continuously hydrates and protects the cornea while correcting its irregularities. Scleral contact lenses offer optimal vision restoration and comfort.
- The EyePrintPRO is a prosthetic contact lens similar to the scleral lens that rests on the sclera and vaults over the cornea. Using its own patented elevation-specific technology, each EyePintPRO prosthetic lens is customized to match each eye using an impression process that captures the curvatures and shape of the ocular surface. These prosthetic lenses improve vision even in very severe cases of keratoconus.
Safe and effective solutions for advanced keratoconus
When keratoconus becomes severe, and vision correction can no longer be achieved using eyeglasses or contact lenses, a more invasive approach may become necessary. The good news is that these options are still very safe and effective:
- A corneal transplant is the last option when good vision cannot be achieved using other non-invasive methods and treatments. This procedure takes about an hour to complete, performed on an outpatient basis. The process includes removing the patient’s cornea and replacing it with a donor cornea. In almost all cases, corrective lenses are still necessary to provide the clearest vision possible post-surgery. Corneal transplant surgery is generally very successful.
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Our eye care professionals offer innovative genetic testing for keratoconus. This is an early screening process that also can be used to identify and provide a risk assessment for other types of congenital corneal abnormalities. If you know of family members who live with keratoconus, you may be interested in this testing. When treating keratoconus, the earliest intervention always leads to the best outcome. Schedule your appointment today to speak to an eye care professional to learn if you are a candidate for testing today.
Testimonial from Jessica, Satisfied Patient
Dr. Kramer has extensive knowledge in contact lenses and is always up to date with technology and advances for eye care and vision solutions. She strives to find the best solution for each person’s needs and lifestyle and for all ages. In addition to vision correction, she also provides access to other treatments including myopia management.