Keratoconus is a condition in which the normally round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins causing a cone-like bulge to develop. The thinning causes the cornea to bow outward like a cone, rather than have a normal spherical shape, individuals who are diagnosed with keratoconus have football shaped eyes. The cornea is the clear window of the eye and is responsible for refracting most of the light coming into the eye. Therefore, abnormalities of the cornea severely affect the way we see the world making simple tasks, like driving, watching TV or reading a book difficult.
Keratoconus is found in one out of approximately 1,900 patients and often has a genetic predisposition. Usually beginning in adolescence, keratoconus worsens until about age 30 or 40 and then stabilizes. In its earliest stages, keratoconus causes slight blurring and distortion of vision and increased sensitivity to light. These symptoms usually first appear in the late teens and early twenties. Keratoconus may progress for 10-20 years and then slow or stabilize. Each eye may be affected differently.
In the early stages, a person may be only diagnosed with astigmatism unless special testing (corneal topography) is done. If the cone is small, glasses can often correct the astigmatism. Over time, however, the disorder can progress and lead to further thinning and steepening of the cornea. Rigid gas permeable contact lenses are usually employed at this stage to allow the vision to be corrected. If the keratoconus progresses further with decreasing vision and contact lens intolerance, the next step would traditionally be corneal transplant surgery. Less than 10% of all keratoconus patients progress to the point where surgery is needed to rehabilitate vision. Currently, there are studies being conducted nationwide for treatment of keratoconus that does not involve the need for a corneal transplant procedure.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with keratoconus or suspect that you may have undiagnosed keratoconus, please contact us for a consultation. Lickteig Family Eye Care has the technology to perform special testing (corneal topography) to rule out or determine if keratoconus exists.