This is a disorder in which the transparent tissue (cornea) at the front of the eye bulges outwards. For a patient suffering from keratoconus, the transparent, dome-shaped tissue that covers the thin eye (cornea) sprouts outward into a cone form.
Symptoms first appear during puberty or late adolescence and include blurred vision and light and glare sensitivity. Vision can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses early on. In advanced cases, a cornea transplant may be needed.
Keratoconus generally does not lead to complete blindness. But the disease can degrade vision to a level where one will have trouble leading a normal life. If someone is infected with mild keratoconus, then curing them may not require glasses or contact lenses after receiving keratoconus treatment.
Kerato in Greek means cornea and conos means cone – describing a cornea shaped like a cone. In contrast, a normal cornea is more spherical, shaped similarly to a basketball that has been cut in half. Accurately determining the shape of the cornea is much easier with today’s technology than it was in the past.
CAUSES OF KERATOCONUS
In contrast, a normal cornea is more spherical, shaped similarly to a basketball that has been cut in half. Accurately determining the shape of the cornea is much easier with today’s technology than it was in the past.
The causes of keratoconus are a little complicated. There are theories as to what contributes to keratoconus, but a definitive reason has not been determined as to the cause. Most people agree there is a genetic component to the condition. Whenever a parent has keratoconus, children are monitored more closely for keratoconus symptoms. There has also been a correlation to people with atopic conditions that are related to allergic hypersensitivity. These conditions can include allergic dermatitis, allergic asthma, and allergic conjunctivitis of the eyes. These situations do not guarantee everyone with an allergy is at high risk for keratoconus; however, individuals who tend to be highly sensitive may be more at risk for keratoconus development. It is thought that constant eye rubbing can cause keratoconus, and in people with atopic conditions, eye rubbing can be habitual. It is not known whether the condition itself or the act of rubbing the eyes plays a larger role in keratoconus development.
TREATMENT OF KERATOCONUS
In the early stages of keratoconus, vision can generally be corrected using contact lenses. The normal type of lens necessary is a rigid gas permeable lens which most people know as a “hard” contact lens. As the condition progresses, keratoconus treatment may call for surgical intervention. There is a type of corneal implant technology that alters the shape of the cornea that helps decrease the amount the cornea bulges. This type of implant has been shown to aid in vision correction and is also reversible if removal is necessary. Ultimately, if the condition progresses severely enough, a keratoconus corneal transplant can be deemed necessary. Once performed, most people obtain functional vision while wearing a rigid gas permeable lens similar to the type worn in early keratoconus.