Vision is achieved through the cornea. This is the clear central area of the front of your eye. It is the round-shaped ball-like part of the eye. In some instances, the structure of the cornea becomes weak and cannot hold the round shape. In time, this can result in the conventional round curvature of the eyes’ surface bulging outward. This is the condition known as keratoconus.
When tiny protein fibers (collagen) that hold your cornea in place get weak, they cannot maintain the eyes’ shape. Eventually, the cornea gets a cone-like shape. This occurs if your cornea lacks sufficient protective antioxidants. These antioxidants help in removing harmful byproducts produced by the cornea’s cells. If this does not happen effectively, the collagen weakens, causing the cornea to bulge.
Researchers cannot pinpoint what exactly causes this condition. However, they think some people get it genetically. Other things that are linked to keratoconus include:
Family History: Studies have shown you are more likely to get keratoconus if your family has a history of the condition. If this is the case, get your child examined for signs at an early age.
Certain Conditions: Researchers have found a link between keratoconus and some conditions like osteogenesis imperfecta, Down syndrome, retinitis pigmentosa, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
Your eye doctor diagnoses keratoconus by reviewing your family history, medical records, and conducting an eye exam. They may also do other tests to get more details concerning your cornea’s shape. Some of the tests to diagnose the condition include:
Slit-Lamp Examination: The doctor shines a vertical beam of light on your eye’s surface. He or she then examines your eye using a low-powered microscope. They can then determine potential issues in your eye.
Computerized Corneal Mapping: A detailed shape map of your cornea is taken through special photographic tests. These include corneal topography and tomography. They measure the thickness of your cornea and can catch keratoconus before it is visible by slit-lamp exams.
Eye Refraction: The doctor checks your eyes for vision problems. This may be done using a phoropter or a retinoscope.
Keratometry: Here, the doctor measures the shape of your cornea by focusing a circle of light on it. They then measure the reflection and make a diagnosis.
Treatment of this condition depends on its severity and rate of progression. Treatment involves improving your vision and slowing its progression. Some of the treatments include:
Corneal collagen cross-linking involves saturating the cornea with riboflavin eye drops and then treating it with ultraviolet light. It results in cross-linking and stiffening of the cornea, holding its shape.
Various lenses can correct distorted or blurry vision associated with early keratoconus. They include piggybank, hybrid, soft, and hard lenses. Also, scleral lenses treat advanced keratoconus and should be fitted by a doctor experienced in treating the condition.
Surgery options such as deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty help preserve your cornea’s inside lining. Penetrating keratoplasty surgery can be necessary if you have extreme corneal thinning or scarring. This process involves a full cornea transplant.
To get the best diagnosis and treatment for keratoconus, visit Coastal Vision Medical Group at our offices in Orange, Norco, Long Beach, or Irvine, California. You can also call (888) 501-4496 to book an appointment today.