CAN YOU WEAR CONTACTS IF YOU HAVE KERATOCONUS?
Dr. Jim Martin 06/10/2015
One out of every 2,000 Americans have the condition known as keratoconus. It is a form of corneal dystrophy that distorts the shape of the cornea, leading to a gradual loss of vision. It usually starts to affect vision with the onset of puberty, though people of all ages can receive a diagnosis for this condition.
For people newly diagnosed with keratoconus, a common question is whether contacts can be worn or not. The answer is that yes, in many cases, patients with this condition can wear contacts. In fact, they are one of the more effective treatments for mild to moderate keratoconus.
What Happens To The Eye With Keratoconus?
The cornea normally has the shape of a dome, with a smooth round shape. This shape is held in place by the collagen cross-links in the structure of the cornea itself. In a person that has keratoconus, those collagen structures begin to weaken. Over time, the cornea loses the dome structure, becoming shaped like a cone instead.
As the collagen structures begin to break down, the patient begins to have symptoms of astigmatism, including blurring and the need for corrective lenses. With time, the blurring becomes worse and eventually the patient starts getting ghost images. The item being viewed is surrounded by multiple ghost images of itself. This is especially acute in darkness when viewing a bright point of light.
Are Contacts Used For Correcting Vision In Keratoconus Patients?
Contact lenses are an effective treatment for mild to moderate keratoconus. In the earliest stages of this condition, doctors will prescribe soft contact lenses or eyeglasses to correct vision. The lenses prescribed are often of the same type and configuration as for someone with astigmatism.
As the disease progresses, however, soft contact lenses may not provide enough vision correction. The eye doctor may recommend switching to rigid gas-permeable lenses. They provide clearer, crisper vision correction. In recent years, contact lens manufacturers have started developing softer lenses that work with moderate keratoconus. These newer lenses have a hard center with a softer skirt.
It is critical that a patient with keratoconus visit an eye doctor that is familiar with fitting contacts to people with this condition.
Eventually, as the disease progresses further, the patient may find that contact lenses are no longer providing enough vision correction. In those cases, advanced treatments like corneal transplants are necessary. In less severe cases, a new procedure called corneal cross-linking may suffice.
If you've received a diagnosis of keratoconus and need corrective lenses, contact us here at Broome Optical. Our team of optical specialists has experience dealing with this condition. Give us a call today, because life is worth seeing.