Keratoconus is an eye disease that is marked by serious vision problems and can cause the eye cornea to bulge out in the shape of a cone. Here is an insight into the symptoms, causes and treatments of Keratoconus.

Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease in which the cornea of the eyes starts thinning and it starts bulging to form a dome-shaped structure. The dome or cone-shaped interior of the eyes reflects the light as it enters the eye on its way to the light-sensitive retina. Keratoconus condition can occur in one or the both eyes, and it usually begins in person’s teenage. If both of the eyes of the patient are affected then, it may cause the disability in the vision occurs, and the person finds it difficult to drive a car or read normally.

Signs and symptoms:

Keratoconus disease is the most common sign that is obvious to the eyes is the bulging and irregular shape of the cornea. The nearsightedness problem can also occur along with astigmatism and blurred vision. The symptoms of Keratoconus are not different from refractive defects of eyes.

  • Vision deteriorates
  • Visual acuity becomes impaired
  • Night vision is often poor
  • Photophobia or sensitivity to light
  • Eye strain from squinting to read
  • Itching in the eye

The patients with Keratoconus problem needs to visit an eye specialist every other time, and he might need to change the eyeglasses prescription every time they visit the eye, practitioners.

Causes of Keratoconus:

Keratoconus causes the weakening of the corneal tissues. Keratoconus is thought to be caused by imbalances of the enzymes of the cornea. The imbalances of the enzymes make the corneal cells susceptible to damage caused by the free radicals formed within the eyes and the corneal cell layers become very weak as bulging starts to begin.

The risk was causing factors of oxidative damage causing Keratoconus include the genetic predisposition. It is the reason keratoconus often runs in the families. Some studies also associate Keratoconus with overexposure to ultraviolet rays, eye rubbing and use of poorly fitted contact lenses.

Progression of disease:

Keratoconus usually attacks in the teenage or the early twenties. However the progression of the disease is very slow, and it almost takes 10-20 years to cause some serious vision problems. The problem of Keratoconus initially starts with blurred vision and then the bulging starts forming leading to the eyesight becoming very worse. The cornea becomes completely irregular in shape, and cracks appear on it too. If left untreated the disease can lead to complete loss of vision and this condition is named as hydrops.

Diagnosis of Keratoconus:

The vision changes were occurring should be properly looked after so as to identify the problem. For a patient suffering from Keratoconus, an early and accurate management is very necessary to maximize the outcomes of the treatment.  It is also very necessary for an eye patient to see an optometrist and  perform the routine tests like:

  • Corneal topography
  • Slit lamp
  • Corneal pachymetry
  • Retinal examination

Once these tests diagnose the presence of Keratoconus, the degree of disease severity is diagnosed by following metrics:

  1. On the basis of steepness of curvature:mild/advanced/severe
  2. On the basis of morphology: nipple/oval/globus
  3. Based on corneal thickness: mild or advanced

Treatment of Keratoconus:

The treatment of Keratoconus depends upon the stage of the disease, if the condition is very severe then one of these treatment options are available for advanced stages:

  1. Soft contact lenses (custom made):

It is the use of lenses for the treatment of mild to moderate Keratoconus problems. The lenses available are of wide fitting ranges.

  1. Gas permeable(GP) contact lenses:

In case the soft contact lenses are not able to control the disease, then gas permeable contact lenses can be used to replace the irregular shape of the cornea with smooth and uniform one.

  1. “piggybacking” contact lenses:

This type of lens uses soft lenses above which GP lenses are used so as to make the condition comfortable for the patient.

  1. Hybrid contact lenses:

Highly oxygen-permeable rigid centre with a soft peripheral hybrid lens is used to treat Keratoconus.  This lens fit comfortably over the bulging cornea and provides a fixed shape to the eyes.

  1. Sclera and semi-sclera lenses:

These are the gas permeable contact lenses with large diameters.

  1. Intacs:

Needed only when lenses are of no help, these intact are corneal inserts that are surgically applied.

  1. Corneal cross-linking:

This corneal cross-linking strengthens corneal tissue and prevents the further bulging of eyes.

  1. Corneal transplant:

It is the last remedy when either people can’t tolerate the contact lenses, or lenses do not provide any relief.