Keratoconus is a progressive thinning eye disorder in which the normally round cornea begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. In patients with keratoconus, the cone-shaped cornea deflects light and causes distorted vision.
Keratoconus often begins to develop between the teen years and the early 20s, although it can develop at any age. Changes in the shape of the cornea occur gradually, usually over several years. Patients with keratoconus often experience blurred and distorted vision, nearsightedness, and a glaring sensitivity to light.
Early stages of keratoconus can be treated with glasses or soft contact lenses. For progressive keratoconus, treatment methods include rigid gas-permeable contact lenses, INTACS or KERARINGS(implants that flatten the cornea), and collagen cross-linking (vitamin B2 eye drops and UV light exposure). Collagen cross linking is a safe and effective new development that halts the progression of keratoconus.
If keratoconus persists or is severe, corneal transplant surgery can be performed to correct the condition.
Keratoconus is a cornea condition. The cornea thins and becomes very steep instead of being an even and round shape. As the cornea increases in steepness, it becomes progressively thinner and irregular. This can happen over several months or years and is often detected in younger individuals. Occasionally older adults are diagnosed as having keratoconus.
The cornea contains collagen which is a clear protein that makes up many other parts of your body. The collagen in your cornea however is very important to maintain shape and clarity. This allows for clear vision without glare, light sensitivity and distortion of images.
To determine whether you have Keratoconus, we look at the shape of the cornea. At Vision Clinic Sydney, we perform a comprehensive assessment of all the components of the eye and take a scan of the cornea to determine its shape. If the cornea displays a certain shape and/or demonstrates progressive increase in steepness, then a diagnosis of Keratoconus can be made. From that point, we will discuss available management options.
In rare cases Keratoconus can be stable and will not change over time. Unfortunately, many cases will need some form of treatment before severe corneal damage can occur. This damage is irreversible and can be severely detrimental to your vision.
The initial symptoms can be very mild, and depending on the rate of progression can be difficult to recognise. Once symptoms become obvious there may be significant alterations to corneal shape. It is very important to act early when the cornea is healthiest.
Keratoconus if left untreated can cause severe vision loss and requires surgery.
To correct vision, spectacles or contact lenses may be used. There are also surgical options including but not limited to: collagen cross linking, with or without adjuvant laser, implantable collamer lens insertion, and partial or full thickness corneal transplantation.
Importantly, progression can be halted by collagen crosslinking. This is a day surgery procedure. It takes a less than an hour to complete and essentially stops the cornea from changing shape. This has proven to be a very good long-term solution for Keratoconus and our patients often keep good vision. There may be an adjustment of glasses or contact lenses required later however this is usually minor.