A progressive eye disorder, keratoconus causes the cornea to thin and bulge abnormally. The cone-like shape it assumes interferes with the way the cornea reflects light on the retina. Unless light is precisely focused on the retina, your vision may be blurry, distorted or cloudy. Keratoconus can affect one or both eyes and typically emerges in late adolescence or early adulthood. Your doctor of optometry can diagnose and treat keratoconus with a variety of specialty contact lenses. In severe cases, people with keratoconus may require a corneal transplant to restore good vision.
Signs of Keratoconus
The more the cornea bulges, the more blurry vision becomes. In addition, keratoconus may cause progressive astigmatism or nearsightedness as well as sensitivity to light and glare. Keratoconus is not painful and does it irritate the eye. The only way to know if you have keratoconus is to visit your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye examination.
Can Keratoconus be Prevented?
Since keratoconus is thought to be genetic, it may not be preventable. Corneal tissue weakening due to enzyme imbalances in the cornea make the cornea vulnerable to free radical damage. Researchers also think development of keratoconus may be related to overexposure to sunlight, wearing poorly fitted contacts for a long time or suffering untreated, chronic irritation of the eyes.
Treating Keratoconus Vision Problems
Your doctor of optometry will prescribe contact lenses or eye glasses to improve vision affected by mild to moderate keratoconus. Since keratoconus is a progressive disease, worsening of corneal bulge may eventually require specialty contacts to accommodate abnormally shaped corneas. Gas permeable contacts, hybrid contacts and scleral contacts offer people with keratoconus the ability to improve their vision while helping to delay progression of the disease. These specialty contacts are slightly larger than regular contacts and cover the entirety of the cornea. Materials used to make keratoconus contacts support eye health by allowing sufficient oxygen and eye fluids to reach the cornea.
Corneal Transplant for Keratoconus
Corneal transplants for people with keratoconus are only necessary when specialty contact lenses can no longer be fitted to accommodate the bulge. Performed as outpatient surgery, a corneal transplant involves an eye surgeon removing the old cornea using laser technology and replacing it with a healthy donor cornea. The procedure takes less than an hour. A shield is worn over the transplant eye for 24 to 48 hours. Clear vision returns within three to six months. Some corneal transplant patients find they do not need to wear eyeglasses or contacts to see well. Others may have to wear corrective lenses as prescribed by their eye doctor.
Schedule an Appointment with Your Arvada Optometrist
Call Dr. Cottrell at Arvada Optometric Center today at (303)-424-5282 to schedule an eye examination. We are a full-service vision and eye care center and provide both schedule and emergency appointments.