Keratoconus

WHAT IS KERATOCONUS?

Keratoconus is a genetic degenerative disorder of the eye in which the cornea gets progressively thinner due to weakening of the corneal collagen. This results in the loss of corneal shape and subsequently poor vision. The condition can be relatively mild in some people but sight threatening in others. There is a strong familial tendency towards keratoconus but it is not necessarily passed from one generation to the next.

SYMPTOMS OF KERATOCONUS

  • Blurring of vision, even when using glasses.
  • Relentless deterioration in spectacle or contact lens strength.
  • Poor night vision with streaking and distortion around light sources
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Ghost images.
  • These visual symptoms are often accompanied by red, itchy eyes and sinus allergy.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE EYES?

The cornea gets progressively thinner resulting in myopia (short-sightedness) and astigmatism (irregularity and warping of the cornea). Initially glasses may be used to improve sight but eventually they are not effective and hard contact lenses become necessary to correct sight. Over time the eyes may deteriorate to a point where contact lenses no longer give clear vision. The cornea may get so thin that it begins to scar and lose clarity. If left untreated, about 30% of people with keratoconus will eventually have profoundly poor vision that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

TREATMENTS FOR KERATOCONUS

  • Control of associated eye allergies

Many patients with keratoconus also have allergic conjunctivitis. Rubbing of the eyes must be avoided as we believe this accelerates corneal thinning. Anti-allergy drops are therefore a very important part of the overall control of keratoconus.

  • Spectacles and contact lenses

Both are important for good vision but neither alters the course of the disease process.

  • Collagen crosslinking

Corneal collagen cross-linking is an office-based surgical procedure that is very effective in halting the progression of corneal thinning.

  • Corneal transplantation

For advanced keratoconus with corneal scarring or extremely poor corneal shape, a corneal transplant is necessary. The abnormal corneal tissue is surgically removed and replaced by donated corneal tissue.

A general ocular examination along with a topographic scan of the cornea is necessary to establish the diagnosis, the severity of the condition and potential treatment options. Please contact us for more information and to set up a consultation.