Keratoconus is a disease of the cornea characterized by its progressive thinning, which then causes the cornea to assume a cone-like shape. As keratoconus advances, the abnormally shaped cornea distorts light as it enters the eye, thereby causing blurred vision. Keratoconus may lead to severe vision impairment.
Keratoconus generally is generally discovered in adolescence or the early 20s, although some studies indicate that children as young as 8 years old may start to exhibit the disease. The rate of progression varies from one person to another. In fact, individuals who have a mild case of keratoconus may not be diagnosed until years later.
Signs and Symptoms of Keratoconus
Keratoconus is not always simple to detect until it progresses significantly and the cornea’s abnormal shape becomes obvious. However, there are some signs and symptoms associated with keratoconus that can be detected early on; these include:
- Progressive nearsightedness
- Irregular astigmatism
- Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
- Distorted and blurred vision
- Glare and light sensitivity
What Causes Keratoconus?
The origin of disease is still being questioned, but there seems to be a genetic predisposition, often affecting more than one family member. Other causes that have been implicated in the development of keratoconus include:
- Chronic eye irritation
- Allergic eye disease
- Severe Eye rubbing
- Complications following laser eye surgery
- Floppy Eye Lid Syndrome
Several tests and technologies can be used to diagnose keratoconus, including eye refraction, slit-lamp examination, keratometry and computerized corneal mapping. Dr. Inna Ozerov uses the most advanced diagnostic equipment available to accurately diagnose keratoconus, determine the severity of the disease and develop an effective treatment plan for each patient.
Keratoconus Treatment Options
In mild or non-progressive disease, initial treatment of keratoconus is aimed at preserving the patient’s vision. This is accomplished through the use of glasses, and possibly special contact lenses, such as rigid gas permeable contact lenses or scleral contact lenses. While these treatments allow most keratoconus patients to retain functional vision for a period of time, unfortunately, they do little to slow the progression of keratoconus. In its advanced stages, keratoconus causes progressive corneal thinning and scarring, leading to severe visual impairment. In this stage, a corneal transplant surgery maybe the only option for visual rehabilitation.
But there is hope!
Back in 2008 the FDA began clinical trials for a new procedure called Corneal Collagen Cross-linking (CXL). This procedure, performed by a few highly skilled eye surgeons, including Dr. Inna Ozerov, offers keratoconus patients a chance of achieving long-term relief from this devastating eye disease. Corneal cross-linking is the only treatment that stops the progression of keratoconus without the need for corneal transplant surgery.