With yesterday being the very first World Keratoconus Day (10th November) we thought that it is only fitting that we go through a rundown of the disease, how it may be affecting you and most importantly, how you can treat it.
What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is an extreme form of astigmatism (irregular astigmatism) where the astigmatism is no longer symmetrical, causing the cornea to become irregular in shape. The disease blurs vision by thinning the cornea – the transparent front of the eye. As the cornea thins, it begins to distort and bulge, and becomes cone-shaped rather than the usual round shape. Through this contortion, significant loss of vision can result as the cornea is the primary focusing outlet of the eye.
An analogy you can use is that rather than shaped like a soccer ball, the cornea comes to a point and instead is shaped like a rugby ball.
Who is affected?
Dr Abi Tenen notes that previous studies have suggested that approximately 1 in 2000 people have keratoconus, although recent work indicates as high as 1 in 50, with both sexes are equally affected.Most cases of Keratoconus are diagnosed in younger people, between the ages of 15 to 30 years and both eyes are typically affected, with a majority achieving stabilisation of the condition by their late 30s, possibly as a result of the general tendency of the body’s collagen to stiffen with age.
What causes Keratoconus?
The precise cause of Keratoconus is unknown. It is thought that genetic factors may contribute, and that eye rubbing can lead to eye trauma, as well as trigger the release of enzymes which weaken the cornea.
- Sensitivity to light
- Seeing ‘halos’ or ‘ghosting’
- Distorted, blurry vision
- Difficulty driving at night
- Double vision in one eye or noticeably worse vision in one eye
- Eye strain, eye pain
In the early stages of Keratoconus, vision may be fixed through glasses and the only noticeable difference between poor vision and Keratoconus, but as the condition advances vision can no longer be corrected due to the high irregularity of the cornea.
Other treatment options include:
- Another sign you may have Keratoconus is a change in your glasses prescription. As the disease continues to advance, patients will experience changes in their prescription every time they visit their optometrist.
- Contact Lenses
- Instratromal Rings (Kerarings): these are thin, plastic, semi-circular rings that are inserted into the cornea through femtosecond laser created channels. They have a flattening effect on the steep cornea by eliminating some or all of the irregularities caused by Keratoconus, with a success rate of 96% for initial to moderate cases.
- Corneal Crosslinking (CXL): this treatment uses a special laser and eye drops to promote “cross-linking,” or strengthening, of collagen fibers in the cornea.
- Corneal Transplants: This option is only viable if all other treatment avenues have been exhausted. Corneal transplants replace damaged or diseased cornea with donated corneal tissue, usually via a graft.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or it has been a while since your last check-up, give us a call on 1800 44 20 20 today and book in for a consultation!