The way that our vision works is very clever, yet it is something that many of us take for granted. Our eyesight depends on light. The light around us enters our eyes, passing through the cornea which refracts it onto an area of cells at the very back of the eye called the retina. The retina is responsible for converting this light into signals which are transmitted between the retina and brain via the optic nerve, determining what we can see. However, if the retina isn’t perfectly domed, the light won’t be refracted correctly, and this leads to blurred vision. There are multiple refractive eye conditions, some more common than others. Keratoconus is one of the less common, but something that our expert eye care team can successfully diagnose, and more importantly, treat, here at our office in Greensburg, PA.
Keratoconus is the name of a non-inflammatory eye syndrome that affects the cornea. The cornea is the usually round, dome-shaped transparent window that covers the front part of the eye over the iris. In patients with keratoconus, the cornea starts to weaken and become thinner. When this happens, it begins to bulge outwards in an irregular cone shape. Unfortunately, this interrupts the regular refraction of light through the eyes, causing the patient to experience a range of different symptoms.
In many cases, keratoconus affects both eyes at the same time, but the symptoms that can be experienced can differ between patients. These include:
Slightly distorted vision
Sensitivity to light
Suffering from glare
Although uncommon, a small percentage of keratoconus sufferers will find that their keratoconus is progressive. If this happens, in addition to the symptoms above, patients might experience:
A diagnosis of near-sightedness or astigmatism or worsening prescription
Being unable to wear contact lenses because they become uncomfortable or no longer fit properly
Unfortunately, the exact reason why some patients develop keratoconus isn’t known. However, there are some factors that are believed to cause the development of the condition. These include:
A genetic link, so if you have family members with the condition, you may be more susceptible to it too
Having allergies, particularly those that affect the eyes
Persistently rubbing the eyes
Trauma to the eye that weakens the cornea
Keratoconus has been shown to be more common in people between the ages of 12 and 25, and in people who are of non-caucasian descent.
Keratoconus is usually detected by a professional before you become aware that you are suffering from the condition. Fortunately, treatment is possible, and keratoconus very rarely leads to vision loss. Instead, patients are reliant on one of several different solutions to focus their sight and correct their vision. These include soft contact lenses or glasses with prescription lenses in the initial stages. However, if the condition progresses and the cornea thins further and becomes even steeper, rigid gas-permeable contact lenses may be needed for greater visual stability.
In cases where contact lenses are no longer proving effective, patients may be referred for an innovative new treatment called corneal cross-linking (CXL) which works by strengthening the fibres across the cornea to contain the bulge and maintain a more natural shape.
If you are concerned about keratoconus and would like to schedule an eye exam with our expert team, or if you have any questions, please get in touch with our offices in Greensburg, PA today.