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Keratoconus Symptoms

Selective Focus Half-face Closeup Photography of Female's Green Eyes

Understanding Keratoconus Eye Disease

Keratoconus is a progressive eye disorder that affects the cornea, the clear front part of the eye that helps focus light into the retina. In individuals with keratoconus, the cornea gradually thins and bulges into a cone-like shape, leading to distorted vision. This condition usually affects both eyes, but the severity can vary between eyes.

Symptoms of keratoconus may include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision: As the cornea becomes irregular in shape, it causes blurred or distorted vision. This can make it challenging to see clearly, especially at night.
  • Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia): People with keratoconus may become more sensitive to light, making bright lights uncomfortable.
  • Frequent changes in prescription: Individuals with keratoconus often experience rapid changes in their eyeglass or contact lens prescription as the cornea continues to change shape.
  • Astigmatism: Keratoconus can result in astigmatism, where the cornea’s irregular shape causes light to focus unevenly, leading to distorted and blurred vision.
  • Double vision (ghosting): Due to the irregular shape of the cornea, images may appear doubled or ghosted.
  • Eye redness and irritation: Some people with keratoconus may experience eye redness, swelling, or discomfort.

The exact cause of keratoconus is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It often starts during adolescence or early adulthood and progresses over time. If you suspect you have keratoconus or are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see an eye care professional for a comprehensive eye examination. Treatment options may include eyeglasses, contact lenses, or, in more advanced cases, surgical interventions, as detailed below. Early detection and management can help minimize the impact of keratoconus on vision.

Can Patients With Keratoconus Receive LASIK?

LASIK surgery is generally not recommended for individuals with keratoconus. LASIK involves reshaping the cornea by removing tissue with a laser, and it’s typically performed to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism in individuals with healthy corneas.

However, keratoconus involves a thinning and irregular shape of the cornea, and LASIK could further weaken the cornea, potentially worsening the condition. Instead of LASIK, individuals with keratoconus may be offered other treatment options, depending on the severity of the condition. Some of these options include:

  • Specialized contact lenses: Rigid gas permeable (RGP) or scleral lenses may be prescribed to improve vision by providing a smooth and regular surface for light to enter the eye.
  • Intacs: These are small, crescent-shaped devices implanted into the cornea to help flatten its shape and improve vision.
  • Corneal cross-linking: This is a procedure that involves applying riboflavin (vitamin B2) eye drops to the cornea and exposing it to ultraviolet light. The goal is to strengthen the corneal collagen fibers and slow or halt the progression of keratoconus.
  • Corneal transplant: In severe cases where other treatments are not effective, a corneal transplant (keratoplasty) may be considered. During this surgery, the damaged cornea is replaced with a healthy donor cornea.

Again, it’s important for individuals with keratoconus to consult with an eye care professional, preferably a corneal specialist, to determine the most appropriate and effective treatment options for their specific situation. Regular eye examinations are crucial to monitor the progression of keratoconus and adjust the treatment plan as needed.