Keratoconus

Have you been told that you may have keratoconus? Dr. Susan Johnson would be happy to explain in detail.

Keratoconus is a vision disorder that occurs when the normally round cornea (the front part of the eye) becomes thin and irregular (cone) shaped. This abnormal shape prevents the light entering the eye from being focused correctly on the retina and causes distortion of vision.

In its earliest stages, keratoconus causes slight blurring and distortion of vision and increased sensitivity to glare and light. These symptoms usually appear in the late teens or late 20s. Keratoconus may progress for 10-20 years and then slow in its progression. Each eye may be affected differently. As keratoconus progresses, the cornea bulges more and vision may become more distorted. In a small number of cases, the cornea will swell and cause a sudden and significant decrease in vision. The swelling occurs when the strain of the cornea’s protruding cone-like shape causes a tiny crack to develop. The swelling may last for weeks or months as the crack heals and is gradually replaced by scar tissue. If this sudden swelling does occur, your doctor can prescribe eyedrops for temporary relief, but there are no medicines that can prevent the disorder from progressing.

Eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may be used to correct the mild nearsightedness and astigmatism that is caused by the early stages for keratoconus. As the disorder progresses and cornea continues to thin and change shape, rigid gas permeable contact lenses, scleral contact lenses, and hybrid contact lenses can be prescribed to correct vision adequately. The contact lenses must be carefully fitted, and frequent checkups and lens changes may be needed to achieve and maintain good vision. Dr. Johnson will be happy to discuss the best option for you.

If you have more advanced keratoconus there are procedures that Dr. Johnson can talk to you about. Corneal collagen crosslinking is a procedure that slows the progression of keratoconus (Wang 2017). In a few cases, a corneal transplant is necessary. However, even after a corneal transplant, eyeglasses or contact lenses are often still needed to correct vision.

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Dr. Johnson is a proud member of the American Optometric Association (AOA). Some content are copyrighted information courtesy of the AOA.

Wang YM, et al. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2017;doi:10.1016/j.jcrs.2017.04.033.

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