Can Keratoconus Lead to Vision Loss? And what Special Lenses Should Your Child Wear?
It can be an unpleasant surprise when you take your child to the eye doctor and they detect the first signs of keratoconus. Keratoconus is a serious condition, but it does not usually lead to vision loss if managed early.
Keratoconus Is Difficult to Diagnose
Your child’s eye doctor may suspect keratoconus if your child experiences the following symptoms:
- Unclear or distorted vision, as if the world is reflected through a funhouse mirror
- Sensitivity to light
- A need for stronger eyeglasses or contact lenses relatively soon after a recent eye exam
- Itchy eyes; frequent rubbing of eyes
- Seeing double through one eye when the other is covered
If some or all these symptoms are present, a visit to the eye doctor is recommended to determine if your child has keratoconus. The sooner the correct treatment is provided, the better.
Related resources: How an Optometrist Diagnoses Keratoconus Patients
The Cause of Keratoconus Is Not Really Known
Scientists are still investigating the possible causes of keratoconus. Some cases are genetic but environmental factors can also play a role, and in some cases, keratoconus appears to be associated with an eye allergy or physical condition.
What Is Actually Going on?
The cornea is the transparent part of the eye through which light enters. Normally, this is an almost perfect sphere. The collagen fibers that make up this sphere provide the necessary stability and rigidity. In keratoconus, however, that tissue slowly becomes thinner, causing the eye to take on the shape of a cone. This results in distorted and reduced vision.
Can You Go Blind from Keratoconus?
Although keratoconus can progress rapidly in the beginning, it rarely causes blindness. Most people develop this condition during puberty. First, there may only be myopia and astigmatism, but this can rapidly evolve into severely reduced and distorted vision. Around the age of about 45, keratoconus often stabilizes.
Patients should have their eyes checked regularly in order for the doctor to closely monitor the progress of the disease and intervene if necessary, to keep any potential vision loss to a minimum. The sooner patients get diagnosed with keratoconus, the sooner they can do procedures like collagen corneal crosslinking to stop it from getting worse and obtain the right corrective treatments to improve the vision.
Optimize Both Vision and Comfort
Although there is no real cure for keratoconus, there are ways to stop its progression and optimize vision. Stopping progression is achieved with collagen corneal crosslinking. For vision correction, in the early stages of keratoconus, glasses and soft contact lenses are an adequate choice. Custom or specialty contact lenses may be necessary to achieve clear vision as the disease progresses. This may include gas permeable lenses which can be customized to fit over corneal irregularities. Scleral lenses are one of the most advanced technologies available for correcting vision in keratoconus and may be indicated especially if corneal rigid gas permeable lenses no longer feel comfortable. There are also hybrid lenses that have a rigid center and have to provide the comfort of a soft lens with a soft periphery.
Contact us to find out more about keratoconus, the treatment options, and the right lens for you. We are happy to assist you with information.
A keratoconus patient testimonial after treated with scleral lenses