What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus, which often manifests itself in puberty, beginning as
a mild astigmatism and myopia, is an eye condition in which the clear window at the front of the eye, known as the cornea, begins to thin and warp from its normal, dome shape, to a conical, more protruding, shape. This warping can seriously harm your vision.
The normal dome-shape of the cornea allows for the refraction of light onto the back of the eye, so that it creates a clear image to send to the brain for interpretation. However, the more conical shape of keratoconus causes the light to be scattered as it enters the eye and hit several different points on the retina. This can create and increasingly severe blurring of vision, along with increased sensitivity to light, glare and mild eye irritation.
Symptoms and Causes of Keratoconus
Although it usually affects both eyes, symptoms may be different in each individual eye. Usually keratoconus progresses quite slowly, getting worse over the course of roughly 10 or 20 years and then ceasing abruptly.
Unfortunately, what causes keratoconus has baffled scientists for many years. Many studies seem to indicate that it may be linked to genetics, based on statistics that 10% of all people who develop keratoconus have a previous family history of the condition. Other links may be to excessive eye rubbing and other similar eye injuries, as well as certain eye diseases such as retinopathy of prematurity. Systemic diseases such as down syndrome also may lend to the development of keratoconus.
Detection and Treatment of Keratoconus
Drs. Farkas, Kassalow and Resnick, along with their experienced and professional eye care team in Manhattan and Roslyn, are experts at detection and treatment of keratoconus, and are happy to help you with the difficulties arising from this problematic condition.
In many cases, Keratoconus is discovered during the course of a routine eye exam, through tests that help to determine the exact shape of the cornea. A slit-lamp examination is the most popular test used to diagnose keratoconus. This test involves your eye doctor directing a vertical beam of light onto your eye, then using a low-powered microscope to look at your eye to evaluate the shape of your cornea. Optical scanning techniques, such as optical coherence tomography and corneal topography may also be used to create a digital topography map of your cornea's surface and measure the thickness of the cornea.
Treatment of your keratoconus varies depending on how severe symptoms have become:
- In the beginning the cornea is still more or less dome shaped, meaning that eyeglasses or soft contact lenses are likely to be a fine solution for vision correction at this point.
- As the condition progresses, glasses and soft lenses will become less and less effective. However, rigid or hybrid contact lenses or scleral lenses may still be worn to ensure that light entering the eye is refracted properly.
- As your keratoconus becomes more severe, other treatments may be available. In some cases, small, curved implantable corneal devices may help by reshaping the cornea into a more dome-like shape.
- In about 10 to 20 percent of cases, a corneal transplant is the only way to restore sight fully. In a corneal transplant, the diseased cornea is removed, and replaced by a healthy donor cornea.