Keratoconus (KEHR-uh-toh-KOH-nus) is a corneal condition affecting approximately 1 in 3,000 patients that causes the front surface of the eye to warp and distort. Patients with this condition typically report distortion of their vision, including the development of “ghost” or doubled images, blurred vision that can’t be improved with glasses, or frustration with their quality of eyesight. It is not unusual for patients with corneal distortions to report difficulty driving, watching television, or reading and working on the computer.
Keratoconus usually affects both eyes, but symptoms may differ between eyes. Signs are typically noted in younger patients but have been detected in the elderly, as well. Symptoms usually start to occur in people who are in their late teens and early twenties and may include:
Keratoconus progression varies, with some patients having significant blur and distortion and others being relatively asymptomatic. It can advance slowly or quickly.
The cause of keratoconus is still not known. Some researchers believe genetics play a role since an estimated 10% of people with keratoconus also have a family member with the condition. Other studies have shown an association between eye rubbing and ocular allergy, so it is important to discuss these conditions with your doctor.
Treatment will often depend on the severity of the condition. During early stages, vision can be corrected with glasses. As the condition progresses, soft, rigid, or scleral contact lenses may need to be worn so that light entering the eye is refracted evenly and vision is not distorted.
You should also refrain from rubbing your eyes, as this can aggravate the thin corneal tissue and make symptoms worse. Collagen cross linking, a relatively new procedure available in the United States, might also be of benefit to reduce the rate of progression.
Our contact lens specialists, Dr. Gregg Russell and Dr. Louis Schlesinger, specialize in keratoconus patients and can help fit the proper contacts for your condition. Both doctors have achieved national and international certifications, making them some of the most qualified in the world.
When good vision or comfort is no longer possible with contact lenses, a corneal transplant is recommended. Our corneal surgeons, Dr. Andre Cohen and Dr. Puneet Panda, routinely perform this procedure. The surgery involves removing the diseased portion of the cornea and replacing it with healthy donor tissue. Overall, the procedure is only necessary in about 10-20% of patients with keratoconus. While a corneal transplant will relieve the symptoms of keratoconus, it may not provide you with flawless vision. Glasses or contacts may still be needed to achieve your best vision.
Keratoconus should only be treated by corneal specialists who have extensive backgrounds in studying the cornea and corneal diseases. If you are experiencing any symptoms of keratoconus, contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our keratoconus experts, including Andre Cohen, M.D., Puneet Panda, M.D., Gregg Russell, O.D., M.P.H., or Louis Schlesinger, O.D.
For additional resources, we recommend visiting the National Keratoconus Foundation website at www.nkcf.org.
When it comes to your eyes, nothing beats a face-to-face consultation with one of our eye doctors. Request an appointment to meet with one of our specialists.
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