Keratoconus and Ectasia Q&A
Think of the cornea as the windshield of the eye. A normal cornea is dome-shaped, but sometimes, the cornea bulges outward like a cone. This condition is keratoconus.
What are ectasia and keratoconus?
“Corneal ectasia” refers to a group of non-inflammatory disorders of the eye that involve the bilateral thinning of the cornea. Keratoconus is a specific type of corneal ectasia in which the cornea thins and weakens, leading to bulging and distortion.
What causes keratoconus?
The human eye contains tiny fibers of collagen that hold the cornea in place and prevent it from bulging. In keratoconus, these collagen fibers become weak and cannot keep the cornea in its proper shape. This condition may be caused by a decrease in antioxidants in the cornea, which allows free radical damage to occur, weakening the cornea. Sometimes, keratoconus runs in families, so if you have this condition and have children, it’s essential to have their eyes checked regularly. Its onset and progression have also been linked to eye rubbing.
What are the symptoms of keratoconus?
Keratoconus usually begins during the teen years, although it can start as early as young childhood or as late as 30. Symptoms of keratoconus include:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Sudden worsening or clouding of vision
- A frequently-changing eyeglass prescription
- Increased sensitivity to light and glare; trouble driving at night
- Itchy eyes, particularly when combined with the above symptoms
Which treatments are available for keratoconus?
In the early stages of keratoconus, the treatment is usually eyeglasses or soft contact lenses, but these are only helpful to a certain extent. Once the cornea has started to bulge out significantly and become irregular, eyeglasses cannot correct the person’s vision. At this point, we recommend scleral contact lenses.
Scleral lenses are designed to “vault” over the cornea, making them much more comfortable for a person with keratoconus than regular soft contact lenses. The space between the cornea and the back of the scleral lens fills with a sterile saline solution to keep the eye lubricated and comfortable and compensate for the irregularities of the cornea.
Corneal collagen crosslinking is another treatment option that can be effective for keratoconus. It is a minimally-invasive, in-office procedure that helps to create stronger bonds (crosslinks) between the fibers of collagen in the eye. The objective of this treatment is to prevent progression of the disorder. The patient will likely still need to wear scleral lenses for best results.
I have keratoconus. What should I expect?
Keratoconus can be difficult to diagnose because the earliest sign is typically blurred vision with no indication of anything else going wrong. For that reason, many people deal with vision issues for years before receiving an accurate diagnosis. Once you have been diagnosed with keratoconus, it’s vital to begin treating it correctly and promptly. It is a progressive disease, but with the right treatment, you can slow its progress and relieve some of your symptoms.
Related post: Keratoconus Treatment in 2020: What Should We Expect?
If you are experiencing blurry vision or any other eye-related problems, don’t hesitate to contact Miami Contact Lens Institute.