The eye disorder which affects the cornea of the eye is known as Keratoconus. More precisely, this condition occurs around cornea and forces the front part of the eye (cornea) to become thin and irregular shaped. Such development of abnormal shape prevents the light rays to enter the eye and hence leads to a distorted vision.
In simple words, there are tiny fibers of protein present in human eyes, which are known as collagen. These help the eye to hold the cornea at its correct place. But as the fibers become weak, its ability to hold cornea at the same place weakens. Consequently, the shape gets distorted to become cone shaped.
In its primary stages, keratoconus (also referred as pellucid) becomes the cause of blurriness, impairment of vision and increased sensitivity to light and warmth. These symptoms generally appear in the late 20s or sometimes even in teens. Keratoconus usually advances for 10-20 years and then slows in its progression. Each eye may be affected differently.
Is Keratoconus a Sight Threatening Disease?
As keratoconus advances, the cornea bulges out more and vision may become more distorted. However, in a few instances, the cornea may swell, this can make a sudden and significant decline in vision. The swelling happens when the strain of the cornea’s protruding cone-like shape causes a small crack to develop. The swelling can last for weeks or months since the fracture heals and is slowly replaced by scar tissue. If this abrupt swelling does happen, any ophthalmologist can prescribe eyedrops for temporary relief, but there are yet no medicines that may stop the disease from progressing.
Keratoconus is a gradually worsening disease that, in some cases, may lead to vision loss, or even treated. There are options to help stabilize or increase your vision in case soft contact lenses and eyeglasses are not improving your eyesight. Remember, Bobsledder Steven Holcomb Overcame Keratoconus to win Olympic Gold.
Treatment of Keratoconus
Treatments for progressive keratoconus include:
Corneal cross-linking (CXL)
Custom soft contact lenses
Gas permeable contact lenses
Scleral and semi-scleral lenses
“Piggybacking” contact lenses
Hybrid contact lenses
Prosthetic contact lenses
Eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may be utilized to fix the mild nearsightedness and astigmatism that’s caused by the early phases of keratoconus. As the disease progresses and cornea continues to thin and change shape, rigid gas permeable contact lenses may be prescribed to correct vision adequately. Generally, this is sufficient. The contact lenses must be carefully fitted, and regular evaluations and lens adjustments might be needed to achieve and maintain good vision.
In a couple of instances, a corneal transplant is necessary. However, even after a corneal transplant, eyeglasses or contact lenses are most usually needed to correct vision.
Note: The laser vision correction surgery is highly dangerous for people suffering from the eye disorder of keratoconus, as it can further weaken the cornea and make the situation worse. Therefore, anyone with even a small degree of keratoconus problem must not undergo LASIK surgery in any case.