Keratoconus and Ectasia
Ectasia or ectasis of the eye is a condition that affects the eye, more specifically the cornea.
Keratoconus is a specific form of ectasia where the cornea thins and starts to bulge. This can cause vision problems and may lead to permanent vision loss if not treated quickly.
What Are the Causes of Keratoconus?
No one knows exactly why people develop keratoconus, but some cases seem to be genetic.
About a tenth of those with the condition have a parent who is also affected. However, it’s also possible for those who have LASIK surgery to develop a form of ectasia that is similar to keratoconus.
What Are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?
Keratoconus tends to appear in the late teen or young adult years and usually progresses steadily for the next decade or two if left untreated. It’s important to note the symptoms of the condition and see a specialist immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:
• Blurry vision
• Straight lines looking bent
• Light sensitivity
• Red eyes
• Swelling in the eyes
• Inability to wear contact lenses comfortably
• Increased nearsightedness
If the cornea swells rapidly, it can cause scarring, which will result in an uneven corneal surface.
Vision becomes increasingly blurry and skewed the more the disease progresses.
Can Keratoconus Be Misdiagnosed?
It is possible that keratoconus may be misdiagnosed. Several conditions are quite similar to the condition. For example, dry eye syndrome may show similar symptoms that resolve upon treatment of the dry eye. Once the underlying issues are treated, the cornea goes back to normal.
What Are the Treatments for Keratoconus?
Early on in keratoconus, patients can use soft contact lenses or even glasses to improve their vision comfortably. Once the cornea has progressed to the point of bulging out, regular contact lenses can be rather uncomfortable and will not provide visual clarity. At this stage, glasses are also unlikely to help correct vision, since they cannot help an irregular cornea.
Corneal cross linking can actually stop the progress of keratoconus, as well. It prevents the disease from getting worse. This method uses specialty UV lights and drops. For most, scleral lenses are the best option for visual correction.
What Are Keratoconus Contact Lenses?
These are special lenses designed to work with the domed cornea. Corneal rigid gas permeable lenses are usually the first option and can work to give you better vision, though they do not provide any protection for the eye. However, if the cornea has domed too much to make these comfortable, look at scleral lenses. Many optometrists and ophthalmologists use a scleral lens, which fits above the cornea, so as not to irritate it. The scleral lens uses non-preserved saline solution that is sterile to create a bubble of fluid between the lens and the cornea. This not only reduces the effects of any corneal irregularities and keeps the cornea lubricated.
Scleral lenses are also created to be as stable as possible, meaning they won’t move much or at all when you blink. They can be very comfortable for those dealing with keratoconus and can improve vision, even when glasses and regular contact lenses can’t. In fact, the comfort level is the same as wearing a corneal gas permeable lens.
Will My Keratoconus Get Worse?
It’s quite possible that the condition will progress, but the actual progression depends on the person. Ideally, you’ll get treated before your vision is badly affected and can stop the process before it goes too far. Dr. Kramer is passionate about vision and works on creating custom scleral lenses that could change your quality of life. With an aim to continuously update her expertise in the area of contact lens design, Dr. Kramer ensures her patients receive the best solution for their eye needs.
Do you think you have keratoconus or another ectasia syndrome?