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Public Education

Keratoconus eye

​What Is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus pronounced like KEHR-uh-toh-KOH-nus, is a tricky eye condition. It turns your normal round cornea into a bulging cone shape. Your cornea is like the camera lens of your eye. It helps focus light so you can see clearly and protects your eye from dirt, germs, and harmful sunlight. With Keratoconus, the light entering your eyedoesn't behave as it should because of this cone-shaped cornea.

What Are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?

  • Keratoconus comes with a bunch of symptoms, including:

  • Your vision gets blurry and distorted.

  • You might see double when you close one eye.

  • At night, you might see halos around lights.

  • Bright lights may look streaky.

  • Your eyes might become light-sensitive, and you could get frequent headaches. If these things sound familiar, it's time for a checkup to exclude Keratoconus.

How Can Keratoconus Affect My Life?

​Keratoconus can mess with your vision, making everyday tasks like working, reading, watching TV, or driving difficult. It can stress you out, lower your self-esteem, and even take the joy out of memorable moments. Plus, it can damage playing sports and influence your personality.

How Common Is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is more common than you might think. In the past, it was supposed to affect 1 in 2,000 people. But today, it's more like 1 in 400. This increase in numbers is due to more capability to diagnose cases that were missed before, thanks to improved technology.

What Causes Keratoconus?

The experts don't entirely agree on what causes Keratoconus, but here's what we know. It happens when the collagen fibers in your eye weaken. Collagen is like the glue that holds your cornea's shape together. When it cuts, your cornea loses its roundness and bulges like a lopsided rubber ball. One reason for this weakening could be the presence of "free radicals" in your eyes. These are bad guys produced by your corneas every day. Usually, antioxidants in your eyes keep them in check, but people with Keratoconus might not have enough antioxidants, leading to the cornea losing strength and bulging. Rubbing your eyes too much can also weaken them. A genetic link might also exist since it runs in families.

Can LASIK or RK Surgery Cause Keratoconus?

For some people, yes. LASIK or RK eye surgeries can trigger Keratoconus. These surgeries involve change to normal corneal structure; in some instances, they can lead to Corneal Ectasia. Even though LASIK screenings are better today, some patients who had the surgery in the past could still develop Keratoconus.

​Are There Different Types of Keratoconus?

​Absolutely! Keratoconus can come in different forms. Depending on the symptoms you're experiencing, you might have one of these types:

  • Forme Fruste Keratoconus is a milder version and a warning sign that the full-blown condition might be on the way. It usually only causes a few issues.

  • Nipple Cone Keratoconus makes your cornea form a cone shape, leading to blurry and wobbly vision.

  • Oval Cone Keratoconus causes your cornea to bulge into an oval shape, mainly at the bottom outer part. It might look like it's sagging.

  • • Pellucid Keratoconus involves thinning of the periphery  of the cornea.

  • Globus Cone Keratoconus is the most severe form, causing your cornea to thin and bulge into a round shape.

How Is Keratoconus Diagnosed?

Doctors have several ways to diagnose Keratoconus, including:

  • Eye refraction uses special tools to check for vision problems.

  • Keratometry, where they shine a light into your cornea to measure how it reflects light and fits its shape.

  • Slit-lamp exams, where they shine a vertical light beam into your eye and use a microscope to look at the surface. This helps them see the shape of your cornea and spot other issues.

  • Corneal mapping is a high-tech technique using fancy tools to map the shape of your cornea.

  • Pachymetry, which measures how thick your cornea is. The tests you need depend on what your doctor has available and how severe your Keratoconus is.

How Bad Is My Keratoconus?

Eye doctors can determine how severe your Keratoconus is by looking at how steep the cones are, how thin your corneas are, and their shape.

How Can I Treat My Keratoconus?

  • The treatment for Keratoconus depends on what type you have. Here are some options:

  • For milder cases, regular eyeglasses do the trick.

  • Soft contact lenses can help.

  • Custom-made soft lenses are another option.

  • There are hybrid lenses that combine small rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses with a soft skirt.

  • Special RGP lenses designed just for Keratoconus are available.

  • Some patients use small RGP lenses with a soft contact lens underneath.

  • Then there are large RGP lenses, also known as "Scleral" lenses.

  • Corneal intra corneal rings which areinserted in the cornea and remodel the abnormal shape of the cornea.

  • Customized laser correction regulates the abnormal shape of the cornea using laser machine.

  • Phakic intra ocular lenses can be implanted to help the patient achieve good vision not obtained by glasses , but it s doesn’t treat the cornea itself.

What's the Best Way to Treat Keratoconus?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer because everyone's eyes are different.

Can I Stop My Keratoconus From Getting Worse?

Like with many conditions, detecting Keratoconus early is crucial. If your treatment progresses, Corneal Crosslinking can help stop it. It's been shown to be 98% effective.

Does Keratoconus Always Get Worse?

Keratoconus worsens as you age, but there's a way to slow it down. A procedure called CXL  (corneal cross-linking) can put the brakes on progressive Keratoconus. If you have it, watching it by seeing a Keratoconus specialist regularly is a good idea. Also, it might not affect both eyes the same way. If one eye is worse, they might only do the procedure on that eye and keep an eye on the other.

Does Keratoconus Cause Eye Pain?

Not always, but it can lead to discomfort. Most common Keratoconus symptoms include distorted vision , corneal thinning, bulging, or rounding. Some patients might develop corneal scarring, which could mean needing a transplant. If your eyes hurt suddenly and you have Keratoconus, don't wait – see your specialist immediately.

Can Keratoconus Go Away by Itself?

Keratoconus is a long-term eye condition that doesn't go away independently. Even if you have a corneal graft, it won't cure Keratoconus. If yours isn't too severe, special contact lenses like Scleral lenses can help you see better. These lenses rest on the white part of your eye (the Sclera) and don't touch the cornea.

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