Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory eye condition where the cornea, which is usually round and dome-shaped, progressively thins and develops a cone-type bulge. When this happens, it prevents light from being refracted onto the retina properly, meaning that your vision becomes blurred.
One of the main problems with keratoconus is that it is progressive, and the bulge will continue to grow and develop until treatment is sought. The worse the bulge is, the more your eyesight will be affected. Patients with moderate to severe keratoconus develop myopia, or nearsightedness as it is most commonly known. This is the most common refractive eye condition in the world, characterized by the patient’s ability to see nearby objects clearly and easily, but when it comes to looking at things further away, their vision appears blurred.
Blurred vision is just one symptom of keratoconus. Others include:
- Slightly distorted vision, where straight lines such as those on lampposts seem wavy or bent.
- Redness of the eyes.
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Increased sensitivity to glare
- Frequent changes in your prescription lenses
- Sudden worsening or clouding of your vision
In the earliest stages of the condition, it is normally possible to correct vision problems caused by keratoconus using prescription lenses. These could be placed into glasses frames or as regular contact lenses. Many people can manage for some time using these methods.
Keratoconus is progressive and this means that you can expect it to worsen over time. This means that at some point, regular prescription lenses will give you insufficient improvement in your symptoms. Many patients switch to using rigid, gas-permeable contact lenses as an alternative. Their rigidity helps to keep the corneal bulge under control for some time and ensures that you can still see clearly. However, if your condition reaches an advanced stage where even rigid contact lenses are no longer helping, you may be recommended to consider a treatment called corneal cross-linking (CXL), which can prevent the need for a corneal transplant.
Corneal cross-linking is a fairly new treatment that is successful in around 90% of cases. It involves using eyedrop medication and ultraviolet light from a special machine to make the tissues in your cornea stronger so that they are incapable of bulging as much. It is called cross-linking because it creates bonds in the collagen fibers of the eye that criss-cross like support beams to keep your cornea stable and the bulge under control.
The treatment itself uses numbing eye drops to ensure that you aren’t in any discomfort. Then you will be given eye drops that allow your cornea to fully absorb the UV light. This takes around half an hour to work, during which time you will be able to relax. Next, you will lay back so that the light can be applied to your eyes. The entire process can usually be carried out in under 90 minutes and will be fully explained to you at your consultation appointment.
If you are concerned about keratoconus and would like to schedule an appointment to have your eyes assessed by our expert team, please contact our optometry center in Sherman Oaks, CA today.