Keratoconus: A Progressive and Sight Threatening Disease

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Keratoconus is a condition that affects the cornea (or clear front layer) of the eye. As keratoconus progresses, the cornea begins to bulge into a cone shape causing distorted and blurred vision. Other symptoms of keratoconus include increased light sensitivity and frequent changes in your glasses prescription.

While the cause of keratoconus is unknown, there is evidence to suggest that frequent vigorous eye rubbing, a family history and certain medical conditions can increase your risk of developing keratoconus. The onset of keratoconus usually occurs between age 10-25 and may continue to worsen for ten or more years. Keratoconus can be diagnosed by your eye doctor and a proper treatment course will be established.

Treatment

Keratoconus is a gradually worsening disease that, in some cases, can lead to vision loss, if not treated. There are options to help stabilize or improve your vision if soft contact lenses and glasses are no longer improving your vision.

Specialty contact lenses

Rigid gas permeable lenses, scleral lenses, or a hybrid contact lens can help smooth out the irregular surface of your eye caused by keratoconus. While these work better than regular contacts or glasses to increase clarity in vision, they do not fix keratoconus, and the condition can continue to worsen.

Corneal Collagen Crosslinking

A medical procedure that combines UV light and Vitamin B2 eye drops creates new corneal cross-links. This process strengthens the cornea to help prevent it from continuing to bulge.

Close up of an eye while lying down green light on the cornea

Jeremy, a Minneapolis firefighter, was diagnosed with keratoconus. Eventually his glasses could not completely correct his vision, and with his profession, contacts were irritating. Jeremy came to Chu Vision Institute for corneal collagen crosslinking to help him continue his work. To learn more about keratoconus and Jeremy’s story, click here to watch the KSTP story.

Intacs

Intacs are crescent-shaped pieces of plastic polymer that are inserted into the cornea to help flatten the steep area, or cone caused by keratoconus, resulting in improved vision.

Corneal transplant

During a corneal transplant, the damaged portion of the cornea is removed and replaced with a donor cornea. Corneal transplants are a last resort in the treatment of keratoconus and while the instance of graft rejection is low, it is possible. Vision usually takes about a year to stabilize after a corneal transplant.

Find your true north with New Vision.

Dr. Ralph Chu LASIK surgeon Minneapolis Ophthalmologists

Board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Ralph Chu is a fellowship-trained corneal specialist and a nationally recognized leader in refractive and cataract procedures. His specialty areas include cataract, LASIK, cornea, and minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries for patients in the Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Twin Cities areas.

Posted on October 12, 2022

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