Your eyes are complex structures that receive and refract light so that your brain can form images, which means each component needs to do its part to help you see clearly. With keratoconus, your normally dome-shaped corneas become thin and cone-shaped, which distorts the light as it enters, leaving you with increasingly worsening vision.
Dr. Curtis Frank and our team of eye experts here at Vision and Ortho-K have considerable experience helping patients with keratoconus regain clearer vision.
Here, we explore what keratoconus is, the primary side effects of the condition, and most importantly, what we can do to treat the problem.
Keratoconus is slightly frustrating, as we still don’t know what causes the condition, but we suspect that genetics and/or allergies may play a role.
What we do know is that keratoconus causes your corneas to gradually thin and bulge out, leading to increasingly distorted vision. This eye condition generally becomes apparent during a person’s late teens and early 20s and worsens over the next decade or two.
In most cases, keratoconus affects both of your eyes, but the symptoms can differ between the two.
The primary symptoms of keratoconus
Most people discover they have keratoconus when they see an eye doctor because of distorted vision. The symptoms of keratoconus are generally mild at first, and include:
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light or glare
- Distorted vision in which straight lines may look wavy
As we mentioned, these symptoms typically come on during your early years and get progressively worse as you enter your 30s, 40s, and beyond.
It’s also worth noting that keratoconus isn’t an inflammatory eye condition, but it can lead to swelling or redness around your eyes. Should this develop, it’s extremely important that you don’t rub your eyes, which can damage your thinning corneas even further. In fact, you should avoid rubbing your eyes at all times, such as in the shower.
Your treatment options for keratoconus
In the earlier stages of keratoconus, we can correct your vision with lenses — either glasses or contact lenses. As your corneas become more misshapen, your treatment options become trickier since wearing normal contact lenses becomes more difficult.
In these cases, we recommend several options:
- Custom-fit hard contacts (rigid gas permeable lenses)
- Piggyback lenses (a hard lens on top of a soft contact)
- Hybrid lenses
We also offer scleral contact lenses, which are larger in diameter so that they rest upon the whites of your eyes rather than on your corneas.
If your keratoconus advances and these vision-correction measures are no longer working, we may recommend Intacs, which are devices that are placed into your eyes to flatten your corneas. Another solution may be corneal transplants from a donor.
If you suspect you or your child may have keratoconus, it’s important that you receive an accurate diagnosis so that we can take the steps necessary to improve and preserve your vision. To get started, simply contact our office in Boston, Massachusetts, to set up an appointment.