Keratoconus is an eye condition that occurs when the cornea thins and bulges gradually in a cone shape. The cornea is the clear, naturally dome-shaped part of the eye surface. When the cornea becomes cone-shaped, it results in blurred vision. It further leads to sensitivity to glare and light. 

Keratoconus often affects both eyes; however, one eye can be worse than the other. The condition usually onsets between the ages of 10 and 25. It progresses slowly for the next decade or longer. You can learn about diagnosing and treating keratoconus. 

Symptoms of Keratoconus

The symptoms of keratoconus tend to change as the condition continues to progress. The symptoms include distorted or blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light, and glare sensitivity. Night driving can become very difficult for someone with the condition. 

Other symptoms are sudden clouding or worsening of vision and the need for frequent changes in lens prescriptions. It is necessary to visit an optometrist if the eyesight worsens rapidly. 

Risk Factors for Keratoconus

The exact cause of keratoconus is unknown, but many believe environmental and genetic factors are involved. Several risk factors can increase a person’s chances of developing keratoconus. 

The factors include rubbing the eyes vigorously and a family history of the disease. Having certain health conditions can predispose one to get keratoconus. The conditions include:

  • Down syndrome.

  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

  • Retinitis pigmentosa.

  • Asthma.

Keratoconus Complications 

Some patients experience rapid corneal swelling, resulting in corneal scarring and sudden reduced vision. This condition occurs when the inner lining of the cornea breaks down. It allows fluid to get into the cornea. 

In most cases, the swelling subsides without intervention, but it can lead to scarring that affects the vision. Advanced keratoconus also causes cornea scarring, worsening vision problems. When this happens, cornea transplant surgery may be necessary.

Diagnosing Keratoconus

The eye doctor will diagnose the condition after conducting several tests. They will then review the patient’s family and medical history. They will conduct a comprehensive eye exam to determine the condition of the patient’s eyes. 

Some tests will help determine the shape of the cornea. The tests include:

  • An eye refraction test.

  • A slit-lamp examination.

  • Keratometry.

  • Corneal topography.

  • Pachymetry.

Treating Keratoconus

Keratoconus treatment follows the severity of the symptoms and the extent of corneal thinning. If the doctor catches the condition early, treatment options include eyeglasses and soft contact lenses. 

Others are hard contact lenses and implants to help flatten the cornea (Intacs). The collagen cross-linking that involves eye drops and UV light strengthens the cornea. A corneal transplant may be necessary when vision is severely compromised or when the cornea is too thin. The surgeon replaces the patient’s cornea with one from a donor.

Specialists will determine the severity of the patient’s condition and consider how fast the disease is progressing when choosing treatment. It is vital to get an early diagnosis and treatment to ensure success. Regular eye exams will help detect early signs of the disease. 

For more on diagnosing and treating keratoconus, visit Grin Eye Care at our offices in Leawood or Olathe, Kansas, or Kansas City, Missouri. You can call (913) 829-5511 today to schedule an appointment. 

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