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UNDERSTANDING KERATOCONUS

 

Keratoconus is a progressive condition that can severely impact your vision. If proper treatment is not achieved, some individuals may experience a rapid deterioration in their quality of vision, especially during the ages 20-40. Understanding your treatment options can help.

 

Keratoconus is an eye disease that causes the cornea to progressively become thinner and start to form a "cone-like" shape.  Light entering the cornea becomes distorted resulting in poor quality of vision.  Spectacle correction may help during the early stages, but usually does not provide adequate vision with moderate to severe stages of Keratoconus. Keratoconus has been linked to UV damage, excessive eye rubbing, poorly fitting contacts, and chronic eye irritation.
 

 

TREATMENT OPTIONS

 

While your eye professional will have the best understanding of what treatment option is right for you, we have compiled ten of the most common treatments here.

Contact Lens Options

  • Scleral Contact Lenses – These lenses are gas permeable lenses but cover a larger area of the eye than a standard rigid lens. These lenses don’t put pressure onto the cone shape of the eye. The reduced pressure results in a more comfortable fit for patients.

  • Gas Permeable Contact Lenses – Gas permeable lenses are rigid and physically re-shape the cornea. This allows for visual correction of Keratoconus. However, the lenses can be very uncomfortable and difficult to wear, especially in more advanced cases. The fit is often time-consuming and may take several different lenses to achieve the proper fit.

  • Piggyback Contact Lenses – This method is used for individuals who require a gas permeable lens for good vision but cannot tolerate rigid lenses. Piggybacking utilizes a standard soft lens on the cornea, with a gas permeable contact lens on top. This offers the comfort of soft contacts with the visual clarity of the gas permeable lenses.

  • Hybrid Contact Lenses – Hybrid contact lenses were designed specifically for keratoconus. This concept is similar to a piggyback contact lens system except that the rigid and soft contact lenses are fused together.

  • Custom Soft Contact Lenses – Standard soft contacts are very comfortable but in many cases of Keratoconus do not provide adequate visual quality. Special custom soft contact lenses can sometimes be used to correct the issues related to mild and possibly moderate cases of Keratoconus.

 

Surgical Options

  • Corneal Cross-linking (CXL) – This FDA-approved procedure is used to strengthen the links between the collagen fibers in the cornea in an effort to halt the progression of Keratoconus.  Riboflavin eye drops and UV light are applied to the cornea in order to strengthen the corneal tissue.

  • ​Intacs – Tiny plastic implants are surgically placed within the cornea, just under the surface, in an effort to create a more normal shape. This may be an option for patients who cannot tolerate contact lenses.

  • Corneal Transplant – Patients with advanced Keratoconus may no longer be able to tolerate contact lenses, or may not have adequate vision correction with contact lenses. This surgical procedures involves removing the damaged cornea and replacing it with healthy cornea tissue.  In some cases, this procedure may need to be repeated over time.
     

Kertoconus is a serious vision-threatening disease.  However, there are good treatment options to correct vision and improve quality of life. If you have been diagnosed with Keratoconus, we are happy to help determine the most appropriate treatment options for you.