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Keratoconus: Symptoms and Treatment Options

18 February 2020

Keratoconus treatment

If you are noticing that you frequently have to update your prescription glasses and are between 10 and 25 years of age, you may have a condition called keratoconus. Read our blog post to find out about keratoconus symptoms and treatment options.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus eye disease results in the thinning of the front surface of the eye called the cornea. This thinning causes bulging of the cornea resulting in increased astigmatism and blurred vision. Keratoconus doesn’t cause blindness, but can lead to disabling vision.

Recent research suggests that keratoconus results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Studies indicate that about 20% of keratoconus patients have relatives affected with the disease.

Keratoconus Symptoms

The symptoms of keratoconus include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Halos and flaring around light sources
  • Double and /or multiple images
  • Sight loss in one eye or worse vision in one eye (monocular vision)

Some people with keratoconus also experience:

  • Eye strain, squinting, headaches and general eye pain
  • Dry eyes, irritated eyes, itchy eye, allergies
  • Excessive eye rubbing
  • Although, these symptoms are not directly related to the disease itself.

Because the symptoms are very similar to other eye conditions and diseases, keratoconus can only be diagnosed by a thorough examination by an opthamologist. At Hunter Laser Vision, our trained ophthalmologists will take images of your cornea to determine its shape, and measure your corneal thickness. They will then be able to confirm if you have keratoconus and if the condition is worsening.

How to prevent keratoconus

Unfortunately, you cannot prevent keratoconus from occurring as it is a progressive eye-disease. But it is manageable and there are things you can do to lessen the impact.

For instance, keratoconus is more common in people who suffer from conditions that cause itchy eyes such as hay fever, eczema and allergies. Frequent eye rubbing can impact both the development and progression of keratoconus. If your eyes are itchy, try not to rub your eyes, but see your health professional for appropriate management.

Keratoconus Treatment

Keratoconus is not curable, however many patients notice that the condition stabilises by the time they reach their 30s.

Treatment depends on what stage your keratoconus is, glasses or rigid contact lenses are recommended for those suffering from mild keratoconus.

If the disease is progressing rapidly, surgery may be recommended. There are two types of minimally-invasive surgeries used to treat keratoconus:

    1. Kerarings: semi-circular rings are inserted into the cornea to restore the natural curve and improve vision
    2. Ultraviolet corneal crosslinking: Specialised dye eyedrops are used on the corneal surface, followed by ultraviolet light. This creates a reaction that causes the collagen fibres in your cornea to “crosslink”, which strengthens it.

Kerarings are normally recommended to people experiencing moderate keratoconus, while ultraviolet corneal crosslinking is recommended to people experiencing severe or rapidly declining keratoconus. Approximately one third of patients that undergo ultraviolet corneal crosslinking notice improvements in their vision. However if the condition worsens, this procedure can be repeated.

6-monthly checkups are an essential part of the treatment plan for those suffering from keratoconus. Regular checkups allow your opthamologist to review your condition, determine if it is worsening and if surgery is necessary. Contact lenses must not be worn two weeks prior to your checkup, to ensure accurate testing.

At Hunter Laser Vision, we understand that two weeks without contact lenses can be very difficult for those with impacted vision. If this is a problem for you please contact our staff for advice.

If you are experiencing worsening vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity, book an appointment with Hunter Laser Vision. Our expert opthamologists can discuss your symptoms and provide a suitable treatment plan. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us today.

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RANZCO - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists - The Leaders in Collaborative Eye Care
ASO - Australian Society of Ophthalmologists

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