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Keratoconus – Is it a Serious Problem?

The cornea is responsible for the quality of our vision. When this gets damaged, it would result to various eye ailments just like keratoconus (http://www NULL.theeyepractice NULL.com NULL.au/keratoconus). What exactly is this eye problem?

What is Keratoconus

The main reason why this progressive eye ailment results to poor eyesight is because it changes the usually round shape of the cornea. It becomes much thinner and then gradually transforms to a cone-like shape. When this happens, light which passes through the cornea becomes distorted. Hence, the retina cannot do its functions well and this leads to poor vision.

Unlike the common misconception of many, this eye problem does not always affect both eyes. In some cases, only one eye has a problematic cornea. Usually, the onset of the problem may begin during the teenage years or early 20s.

Keratoconus Causes

The cause of keratoconus (http://www NULL.theeyepractice NULL.com NULL.au/keratoconus/keratoconus-causes) is highly attributed to genetics. More recent studies have shown that imbalance of enzyme in the cornea is also responsible. Whether it is genetic or naturally-occurring imbalance, among the factors which could trigger this ailment include uncomfortable contact lenses, recurring eye irritation, excessive rubbing of eye and overexposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Some common health problems can also increase the tendency of developing this ailment. Individuals with down syndrome, extreme allergies, asthma, retinal diseases and problems with connective tissues might be easily affected with this eye disorder.

Keratoconus Symptoms

The various symptoms of keratoconus (http://www NULL.theeyepractice NULL.com NULL.au/keratoconus/symptoms) may start from barely noticeable to severe, depending on the progression of keratoconus. Since some of the symptoms can be easily assumed as nothing serious, it is best to have comprehensive eye test which is done by a physician to determine the problem. Among the symptoms include:

•    Unclear, hazy, distorted or blurred vision
•    Higher sensitivity of eyes for sunlight, bright light or glare
•    Difficulty or inability to have reliable eyesight during the night
•    Easily experiences eyestrain which leads to headaches
•    Blurry vision eventually worsens to hazy vision which can be a result of a rupture at the back part of the cornea

Keratoconus Treatment

•   The best treatment for keratoconus (http://www NULL.theeyepractice NULL.com NULL.au/keratoconus/keratoconus-treatment) which has not reached severe stage yet, optometrists and ophthalmologists recommend the use of the right type of contact lenses. Usually, lenses for his eye ailment are more rigid and are designed to be gas-permeable. Aside from the contact lenses, it is also necessary to wear sunglasses when there are bright lights or when spending some time under the sun.

•    Corneal Transplantation is one option which could be considered for severe cases of keratoconus. This means that the patient would undergo surgery so that the cornea will be replaced using tissues from a compatible donor. This really should only occur for around 5% of patients with keratoconus.

•    Other break-through technologies when it comes to treating keratoconus are high-frequency radio energy or conductive keratoplasty and intracorneal ring segments. These procedures alter the shape of the cornea making it easier to fit contact lenses in theory.  We have already experienced these possible options and have to admit that to date we are not impressed.  A lot has been promised and not much has been delivered.

If you have consulted someone and they have recommended the above two procedure we would seriously recommend getting a second opinion.

•    Corneal cross-linking is another option though this is an approved treatment in the USA.  This only occurred this year in 2016. In Australia a 2 year study showed both effectivity and safety and we have been performing collagen cross-linking routinely for over 6 years.   In Germany ophthalmologist have been performing this procedure for well over 15 years now. It makes the cornea become harder and stiffer, so that it would not continue to form a cone-like shape. Hence, the progress of keratoconus will be avoided.

More on Keratoconus can be found at:

The Eye Practice Keratoconus BLOG (http://www NULL.theeyepractice NULL.com NULL.au/_blog/Optometrist-Sydney/tag/Keratoconus/)

About the Author

Dr Jim Kokkinakis (Optometrist) graduated in 1983 from the Optometry School University of NSW. He is currently a Senior Lecturer there and regular speaker to both Optometrists and Ophthalmologists in Australia and Internationally. He has a specialist clinical practice in the Sydney CBD with interests in Eye Strain, Computer Vision problems, Treatment of Eye Diseases and complex Contact lens Fittings.

Comments (10)

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  1. Christine (http://Kerataconus) says:

    Having severe Kerataconus in both eyes. Had a corneal graft on left eye 5 yrs ago and my right can hardly see out of it because of the severe Kerataconus. I get severe headaches if exposed to any form of glare and I avoid light. I am reluctant to have a corneal graft on my other eye, because when I had my corneal graft done, I have severe photophobia in both eyes. Question, what can be done about photophobia?. Christine

    • admin says:

      Hi Christine
      Sorry for the late reply. Keratoconus is one of my main specialties. Are you wearing a hard contact lens on the eye that has not been grafted?
      Regards Dr Jim Kokkinakis

  2. raja says:

    now am using hard lenes ,wearing hard lens is good or not

    • admin says:

      This question depends on who has fitted the lenses. without seeing them on I could not tell you whether your lenses are fitted properly.

  3. raghu says:

    sir pls reply……..can vision be restored to normal…ive undergone intraconeal rings treatment..

    • admin says:

      Intracorneal rings we now know are only for very select cases and very rarely bring things back to normal. The best visual solution is still contact lenses fitted by an optometrical specialist.

  4. Fiza Najeeb says:

    Life with KC is so depressing

  5. Shivansh (http://devdurlabh NULL.com) says:

    My slitlamp test of both eyes is normal but from left eye I see slightly double vision plz help me I am confuse

    • Jim (http://www NULL.optometrist NULL.com NULL.au) says:

      A slitlamp test will not show up subtle keratoconus. You must do a procedure called corneal topography.

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