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Keratoconus

Causes | Symptoms | Treatment


What is Keratoconus?


The cornea is the window of the eye. Light travels through the cornea past the lens to the retina and then the brain to form a visual image. The normal corneal surface is smooth and aspheric, i.e. round in the center, flattening towards its outer edges. Light rays passing through it move in an undistorted manner to the retina to project a clear image to the brain.

In patients with keratoconus the cornea is cone shaped (hence the name keratoconus, derived from the greek word for cornea (‘kerato’) and cone shaped (‘conus’). In patients with keratoconus the cornea is not only cone shaped, but the surface is also irregular, resulting in a distorted image being projected onto the brain.

Because the cornea is irregular and cone shaped, glasses do not adequately correct the vision in patients with keratoconus since they cannot conform to the shape of the eye. Patients with keratoconus see best with rigid contact lenses since these lenses provide a clear surface in front of the cornea, allowing the light rays to be projected clearly to the retina. Hence, the vast majority of patients are treated with rigid contact lenses. There are, however, some excellent new surgical options for patients with keratoconus who cannot tolerate these lenses. These options are discussed under treatments for keratoconus.

Dallas Eye Doctors Discuss Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a form of corneal distortion that affects approximately 1 in 2,000 Americans. As its name implies, this progressive disorder causes the cornea to assume an uneven, cone-like shape, as opposed to the smoothly spherical shape that allows for proper refraction of incoming light. The resulting distortions can produce a variety of symptoms. Some symptoms, such as light sensitivity, poor night vision, and "halos" appearing around light sources, are similar to those of cataracts. Other symptoms include headaches and eye discomfort.

As the cornea becomes more and more elongated, the tissues undergo increasing amounts of stress. Some may even experience tiny cracks in the corneas that cause temporary swelling and even worse visual distortion.

Keratoconus Risk Factors

Keratoconus tends to make itself known during the teenage years, progressing throughout young adulthood. No one can say exactly why keratoconus strikes certain individuals. Genetics can play a role. Congenitally weak or thin corneal tissues may be lacking in collagen, the connective tissue that lends structural support. Oxidative damage and even habitual eye rubbing have been suspected as contributing factors.

Treatment Options at Our Dallas Corneal Clinic

Here at Corneal Lens Institute, we can provide a number of advanced treatments for all stages of keratoconus. Mild keratoconus may respond to eyeglasses or soft contacts, but as the disease progresses, these solutions can no longer provide the necessary vision correction. Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contacts are much better at correcting keratoconus because they maintain a consistent shape that compensates for the corneal irregularities. Hybrid contacts include a soft skirt around a central hard contact lens. These are occasionally used for increased comfort.

Scleral contacts are an especially effective contact lens option. These lenses do not have to conform to the curvature of the corneas at all; instead, they completely vault over the cornea, with the rim resting on the white of the eye. Reverse geometry contacts actually reverse the refractive curvature of the cornea to reduce visual aberrations.

When corrective lenses aren't sufficient for progressive keratoconus, our Dallas clinic can provide additional state-of-the-art procedures. An outpatient procedure known as corneal cross-linking can improve strength and support in weak corneal tissues. The most severe cases of keratoconus may require a corneal transplant. The doctors at Cornea Lens Institute will be able to determine the severity of your keratoconus and will recommend the most appropriate treatment.

Contact Your Trusted Dallas Eye Doctors for more Information about Keratoconus

Keratoconus can be a tricky opponent, but Cornea Lens Institute is up to the challenge. Call our Dallas eye center at 214-739-8611 to schedule a consultation so you receive the keratoconus treatment you need!



Causes


The exact cause of keratoconus is unknown. There are many theories based on research and its association with other conditions. However, no one theory explains it all and it may be caused by a combination of things. It is believed that genetics, the environment, and the endocrine system all play a role in keratoconus.

Symptoms


  • Blurred vision or vision that cannot be corrected with glasses
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Difficultly driving at night
  • A halo around lights and ghosting (especially at night)
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches and general eye pain

Contact Lens Treatments for Keratoconus


In the mildest form of keratoconus, eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may help. But, as the disease progresses, the cornea thins and becomes increasingly irregular in shape. After this occurs, glasses and regular soft contact lens designs no longer provide adequate vision correction.

Treatments provided by Cornea Lens Institute for moderate and advanced keratoconus include many different options. Each and every patient is evaluated with our advanced technology to determine the best recommendation. Please scroll down to explore some of the many options our doctors utilize.

Treatment Options for Keratoconus

Scleral

First and foremost, Scleral Contact Lenses are one of the most remarkable pieces of technology in our modern eye care era. They are the first choice of our doctors at the […]

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Hybrid Contact Lenses

Hybrid contact lenses are a technological breakthrough that combines two types of contact lens materials – a rigid gas permeable center and a soft lens skirt […]

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Medically Necessary Keratoconus Soft Contact Lenses

Specialty contacts are sometimes categorized as “medically necessary” – meaning that the patient cannot achieve adequate vision utilizing eyeglasses or conventional […]

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Reverse Geometry Contact Lens Technology

One specialty contact lens design that is especially helpful for keratoconus, pellucid margin degeneration, radial keratotomy, cornea transplants, and other irregular […]

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