Keratoconus is an eye condition where the cornea is irregularly-shaped and bulges forward out of the eye socket. This changes the way light hits the retina and results in distorted vision.
What causes keratoconus?
The weakening of the cornea causes its bulging and is linked with a decrease in collagen and protective antioxidants.
Collagen are tiny fibres of protein in the eye that keep the cornea in place, while protective antioxidants protect the collagen by getting rid of any damaging by-products from cornea cells.
Besides this, there is no certainty about what causes keratoconus. However, it is suspected that genetic factors are involved, as 1 in 10 people with keratoconus has at least one parent with the same condition.
What are the symptoms of keratoconus?
The symptoms include:
- rapid deterioration of vision in teens to 25-year olds
- development of refractive errors like myopia and astigmatism
- blurred or distorted vision
- increased sensitivity to bright lights and the sun
- poor night vision, which can affect driving at night
- frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions
- eyestrain and headaches.
How is keratoconus diagnosed?
Keratoconus can be detected through the following eye exams:
- corneal topography, which shows the cornea’s curvature
- keratometry, which measures the curvature of the cornea
- corneal pachymetry, which measures the thickness of the cornea
- slit-lamp examination, where a light is shone into the eye to examine it.
At Hobart Eye Surgeons, we recommend a general eye exam once every 2 years for those over 45 years old.
What are the risk factors of keratoconus?
Although keratoconus is typically an isolated disorder, there are cases where it has been linked to other conditions, such as Down syndrome.
Some risk factors of developing keratoconus include:
- having a family history of keratoconus
- environmental factors such as oxidative stress and allergies
- vigorously rubbing the eyes.
How do I prevent the onset of keratoconus?
You can help prevent the development of keratoconus by:
- avoiding vigorously rubbing your eyes
- avoiding allergens that irritate your eyes.
What are the long-term implications of keratoconus?
Without treatment, the long-term effects include:
- significant vision impairment that can result in blindness
- reduced quality of life.
What are the treatment options for keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a condition that cannot be corrected with glasses.
However, there are advanced procedures that can restore your quality of life.
INTACS (corneal Implants) are small devices put into the cornea to flatten it, changing the way light rays pass through it.
Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking (CXL) is a procedure where riboflavin (vitamin B2) and UV light are used to harden the cornea to slow the disease and reduce the need for corneal transplantation. At Hobart Eye Surgeons, we now perform Epithelium-On CXL, where the skin from the cornea is not required to be removed.