DO I HAVE KERATOCONUS?
Dr. Jim Martin 01/21/2014
Keratoconus, literally translated as 'horn cone' from its Greek origins, is a degenerative disorder in which the cornea becomes more conical in shape. This condition can worsen over time and cause significant impairment if left untreated.
What is a conical cornea?
Your cornea is the transparent front part of your eye that covers your iris and pupil. The cornea also acts as a lens as it refracts the light entering your eye and accounts for about two-thirds of your eye's optical power. A normal cornea is curved and allows your eye to focus on objects at will. As the cornea begins to become more conical as a result of keratoconus, the cornea loses its ability to focus and refract light as effectively.
What are common symptoms of Keratoconus?
Keratoconus and eye disease in general can have mild to severe symptoms when present. In the early stages, your vision may become blurry. As it progresses, your night vision may drastically decrease as well as your ability to focus on objects. Keratoconus is usually a bilateral form of eye disease, in that it affects both eyes. Although, the degree of impairment is usually unequal and therefore, you may have different symptoms in each eye.
The most common symptom reported by those affected by Keratoconus is monocular polyopia, or the perception of 'ghost' images in your vision. These 'ghost images' often occur in high contrast situations, such as a bright light against a dark background. Patients with Keratoconus will see multiple images of the light in a seemingly chaotic pattern. This can also occur when viewing sources of light.
What are the most common treatment options?
In the early stages of this eye disease, your doctor may use contact lenses or glasses to correct the curvature of your cornea. However, as time progresses, these options may no longer rectify the problem. In this case, it is common to move to hard or rigid contact lenses which will provide more support for your cornea.
When glasses and contact lenses no longer work, then your doctor may recommend surgery. Cross-linking is a procedure in which riboflavin is added to your eye which will produce new bonds and change the structure of the cornea. Another possible procedure is when a corneal ring segment inserted underneath the cornea which will then stretch it out and move it back to its normal curvature. When the eye disease has progressed to a point where no other vision correction procedure is a viable option, a corneal transplant may be performed.
What is the best way to protect my eyes from Keratoconus?
The cause of this eye disease remains unclear even though there has been a considerable amount of research on the subject. There is some evidence that keratoconus is both caused by genetic and environmental influences. This eye disease is most often diagnosed during puberty but can present itself at any time and progress at any rate.
Your best line of defense is to make an appointment with your eye doctor any time you notice any change to your vision at all, especially if you have any of the above symptoms. The experts at Broome Optical can help answer all of your questions and diagnose any problems you may be having. As Keratoconus is degenerative in nature, it will only worsen so you shouldn't delay.