Keratoconus blog

Understanding Keratoconus: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

Understanding Keratoconus: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that affects the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. While relatively rare, it can have a significant impact on an individual’s vision and overall quality of life.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is an eye condition that causes the cornea to become thin and conical in shape, instead of the normal, round curvature. This change in shape leads to visual distortions and blurriness. It often begins in the late teens to early twenties and tends to progress over time.

Symptoms of Keratoconus

1. Blurred or distorted vision: Individuals with keratoconus often experience blurry or distorted vision. This can make it difficult to see clearly, even with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.

2. Increased sensitivity to light: Keratoconus can make the eyes more sensitive to light (photophobia), leading to discomfort in bright environments.

3. Frequent changes in prescription: Patients with keratoconus may require frequent changes in their eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions, as the condition progresses.

4. Ghosting or multiple images: Some individuals may see multiple images or ghosting of objects, especially at night.

5. Eye irritation and redness: Keratoconus can cause irritation, itchiness, and redness of the eyes.

Causes of Keratoconus

The exact cause of keratoconus is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some contributing factors include:

1. Genetics: There is a genetic component to keratoconus, as it tends to run in families. If you have a close family member with keratoconus, your risk may be higher.

2. Eye rubbing: Chronic eye rubbing, especially in individuals with allergies, can increase the risk of developing keratoconus.

3. Collagen weakness: Some researchers believe that a weakening of the corneal collagen may play a role in the development of keratoconus.

4. Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those during puberty and pregnancy, may influence the progression of the condition.

Treatment Options

The management of keratoconus focuses on improving visual clarity and comfort. Treatment options may include:

1. Eyeglasses and soft contact lenses: In the early stages of keratoconus, prescription eyeglasses or soft contact lenses can provide adequate vision correction.

2. Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses: These specialized lenses provide clearer vision for people with more advanced keratoconus who are unable to see clearly with soft contact lenses or glasses.

3. Scleral lenses: Larger and more comfortable than RGP lenses, scleral lenses vault over the cornea, improving vision and reducing discomfort.

4. Corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL): This procedure involves applying riboflavin eye drops and ultraviolet (UV) light to the cornea to strengthen its collagen fibers and slow the progression of keratoconus.

5. Intacs: These are small plastic inserts that can be surgically implanted into the cornea to help reshape it and improve vision.

6. Corneal transplant (keratoplasty): In severe cases where other treatments are ineffective, a corneal transplant may be necessary to replace the damaged cornea with a healthy one.

Keratoconus is a challenging eye condition that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. While there is no cure, various treatment options are available to help manage the condition and improve visual clarity. Early diagnosis and proper management are crucial for maintaining good vision and preventing the condition from progressing further. If you suspect you may have keratoconus or are experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms, it’s essential to consult an eye care professional for a thorough evaluation and guidance on the best treatment approach for your specific situation. Schedule your eye exam today!

Skip to content