WHAT IS KERATOCONUS?
Keratoconus is a progressive ocular disease in which the normally spherical cornea begins to thin creating a dome shape that bulges outward like a cone. The cone deflects light as it enters the eye causing sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and large changes to the patient’s refractive error. Keratoconus is an autosomal dominant condition that can run in families.
- Family History. Patients who have had parents or family members with keratoconus or systemic disorders such as Down syndrome have a higher risk to develop keratoconus in their lifetime.
- Chronic eye inflammation. Having chronic inflammation from allergies and irritants may increase the risk of developing keratoconus.
- Eye rubbing. People who always rub their eyes rubbing have more chances to develop keratoconus.
- Age. Keratoconus is generally diagnosed at an early age, during teenagehood.
In the early stages, keratoconus often causes a minor blurring of the vision. The symptoms look like the symptoms of refractive errors. When the disease progresses, vision problems appear. Far and near vision becomes impaired, night vision usually becomes poor. Patients may have an impoverished vision in only one eye as keratoconus usually develops on an eye or the other. Symptoms also include sensitivity to bright light and eye strain. Keratoconus is normally painless.
To diagnose keratoconus, your eye doctor will start by looking at your family history and conduct eye tests to get more details on the shape of your cornea. Diagnosis includes:
- Eye refraction – Your eye doctor will use optical tools to determine your vision’s health and check for any vision problems.
- Slit-lamp examination – In this test, a vertical beam of light and a low-powered microscope are used to view the eye. Your eye doctor evaluates the shape of your cornea and potential problems in your eye.
- Keratometry – Your eye doctor makes a circle of light on your cornea to measure the reflection and see the basic shape of your cornea.
- Computerized corneal mapping – This is a photographic test that creates a detailed map of the cornea. It can detect early signs of keratoconus.
Treatments depend on the severity of the disease. The goal of treating keratoconus is to slow the progression of the disease and improve vision. Mild to moderate keratoconus can be treated with prescription glasses and hybrid contact lenses, or intacs. This can work very well if the cornea becomes stable. A procedure called corneal cross-linking can also be done to control the eye condition.