What Is Keratoconus?
Left: A healthy cornea; Right: A cornea with keratoconus.
Your cornea is the clear, dome-shaped window at the front of your eye. It focuses light into your eye. Keratoconus is when the cornea thins out and bulges like a cone. Changing the shape of the cornea brings light rays out of focus. As a result, your vision is blurry and distorted, making daily tasks like reading or driving difficult.
What Causes Keratoconus?
Doctors do not know for sure why people have keratoconus. In some cases, it appears to be genetic (passed down in families). About 1 out of 10 people with keratoconus have a parent who has it too. Keratoconus is also associated with:
- eye allergies
- excessive eye rubbing, and
- connective tissue disorders like Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
Keratoconus often starts when people are in their late teens to early 20s. The vision symptoms slowly get worse over a period of about 10 to 20 years.
Keratoconus often affects both eyes, and can lead to very different vision between the two eyes. Symptoms can differ in each eye, and they can change over time.
In the early stage, keratoconus symptoms can include:
- mild blurring of vision
- slightly distorted vision, where straight lines look bent or wavy
- increased sensitivity to light and glare
- eye redness or swelling
In later stages, keratoconus symptoms often include:
- more blurry and distorted vision
- increased nearsightedness or astigmatism (when your eye cannot focus as well as it should). As a result, you may need new eyeglass prescriptions often.
- not being able to wear contact lenses. They may no longer fit properly and they are uncomfortable.
Keratoconus usually takes years to go from early- to late-stage. For some people, though, keratoconus can get worse quickly. The cornea can swell suddenly and start to scar. When the cornea has scar tissue, it loses its smoothness and becomes less clear. As a result, vision grows even more distorted and blurry.
Keratoconus can be diagnosed through a routine eye exam. Your ophthalmologist will examine your cornea, and may measure its curvature. This helps show if there is a change in its shape. Your ophthalmologist may also map your cornea’s surface using a special computer. This detailed image shows the condition of the cornea’s surface.
How Is Keratoconus Treated?
Dr. Kenneth Daniels at Hopewell Lambertville Eye an former NEI investigator in the area of Keratoconus on the CLEK Study (Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Keratoconus) is a leader in caring for patients with Keratoconus and other corneal disorders. Keratoconus treatment depends on your symptoms. When your symptoms are mild, your vision can be corrected with eyeglasses. Later you may need to wear special hard contact lenses to help keep vision in proper focus. In particular Scleral Contact Lenses or Hybrids are excellent options for corrective vision with keratoconus. Read More about : Scleral Contact Lenses
There are also treatments for keratoconus usually reserved to be in conjunction with contact lens care or as an alternative.
- Intacs. This is a small curved device that your ophthalmologist surgically puts in your cornea. Intacs help flatten the curvature of your cornea to improve vision.
- Collagen cross-linking. Your ophthalmologist uses a special UV light and eye drops to strengthen the cornea. Doing this helps to flatten or stiffen your cornea, keeping it from bulging further.
- Corneal transplant. When symptoms are severe, your ophthalmologist may suggest a corneal transplant. Your ophthalmologist replaces all or part of your diseased cornea with healthy donor cornea tissue.
Do not rub your eyes!
With keratoconus, try to avoid rubbing your eyes. This can damage thin corneal tissue and make your symptoms worse.
If you have itchy eyes that cause you to rub, speak to your ophthalmologist about medicines to control your allergies
Who is afflicted with Keratoconus?
The prevalence of keratoconus is variable and affects up to 5% of the population in some regions of the world. Both sexes are affected, reaching different ethnic groups. Environmental factors such as sunlight exposure and dry weather, eye rubbing, and genetic factors contribute to its pathogenesis. As well as relationship to systemic diseases such as Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and osteogenesis imperfecta, Marfan's syndrome.
Stephen Curry explained that he simply tried contact lenses and kept them because they worked. (PHOTO: CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES) PHOTO: JESSE JOHNSON/REUTERS https://www.wsj.com/articles/you-dont-have-to-see-to-shoot-like-stephen-curry-11555675201
You are not alone if you think you are the only one with Keratoconus - how about some guys turn out to be Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. He is living proof that sight can be as important in basketball as smell.
“I have blurry vision,” he said, “like millions of people across the country.”
Curry (two-time NBA MVP and three-time champion) declined to elaborate on his exact prescription, and "when it was reported by The Athletic that he has a rare degenerative condition known as Kerataconus, he was bombarded with questions about what one reporter termed his “eye disease.” Curry rolled those eyes so hard he could’ve been on the injured list. He explained that he simply tried contact lenses and kept them because they worked. “When you go have that experience, and see what the world is like with 20/20 vision, it’s pretty crazy,” Curry said while making a visit to the optometrist sound like a week at Burning Man." It changes your life.
To learn more about Keratoconus and Treatment Options call : Hopewell Lambertville Eye
Hopewell Eye: 609-466-0055
Lambertville Eye: 609-397-7020
Read More about Scleral Contact Lenses