Keratoconus: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus (pronounced “kair-uh-toe-CONE-us”) is a progressive eye disease which affects one in 2,000 people causing distorted vision. It can occur in one or both eyes and typically begins during a person’s teens or early 20s. Many people will go years not knowing they have keratoconus.
It is a condition where the cornea thins out and protrudes outward like a cone. Your cornea is the clear, domed-shaped window at the front of your eye. Its role is to focus light into your eye. Keratoconus changes the shape of your cornea which bring light rays out of focus causing blurred vision, glare and/or halos. Many people will go years suffering from these vision problems not realizing they have keratoconus.
Signs and Symptoms of Keratoconus
Symptoms of Keratoconus can differ in each eye and the symptoms can change over time. Keratoconus symptoms are usually mild in the beginning and take 10 to 20 years to progress.
Early Symptoms of Keratoconus include:
- Mild Blurred Vision
- Slightly Distorted Vision
- Increased Sensitivity to light and glare
- Eye redness or swelling
Later Stage Keratoconus Symptoms Include:
- Increased Blurry and Distorted Vision
- Increases nearsightedness
- Not being able to wear contact lenses because they are uncomfortable and don’t fit properly
What Causes Keratoconus?
The cause of keratoconus is still a bit of a mystery. It does seem to run in families, but there may also be some environmental influences. New research suggests that keratoconus may be due to an imbalance of enzymes within the cornea, making the cornea more susceptible to oxidative damage which causes it to weaken and bulge. The cause of Keratoconus can also be associated with:
- Overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun
- Excessive Eye Rubbing
- Chronic Eye Irritation
- Poorly Fitted Contact Lenses
Getting a Diagnosis
Keratoconus can be diagnosed through a routine eye exam. You can expect your eye doctor to examine your cornea and may measure its curve to help show the change in its shape over time. If you are diagnosed with Keratoconus, it is essential to try to avoid rubbing your eyes. Rubbing your eyes can damage the thin corneal tissue and worsen the condition.
Treatments depend on the severity of the symptoms. Mild symptoms like mild vision issues can be corrected with eyeglasses. In later stages of Keratoconus, you may need to wear special contact lenses such as Scleral lenses.
At Everything Eyes, we have had great with Scleral lenses. These lenses are remarkably comfortable as they vault entirely the cornea and limbus. The higher Dk materials allow them to be worn for long periods of time, and the preservative-free saline reservoir helps maintain a healthy epithelial surface. These lenses have worked well for patients who require physical relief as well as clear vision.
If you are experiencing any symptoms listed here, please schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified optometrists.
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