Keratoconus is a disorder of the cornea. The cornea is a thin, clear piece of tissue on the surface of the eye. It must be transparent and compact in order to see through it. Additionally, its shape is very important to our vision. If it is misshapen, the image we see becomes a blur. A misshapen cornea can result in several different kinds of refractive errors, including keratoconus.

Normal Keratoconus

About Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a progressive condition that involves thinning and bulging of the cornea. Instead of being shaped like a hemisphere, it takes the shape of a cone. When the cornea becomes cone shaped, it leads to vision problems. These vision problems can include progressively worsening nearsightedness and astigmatism. Patients who have keratoconus are also likely to have heightened sensitivity to light and glare. It usually manifests in patients during their late teens to early twenties and progressively worsens into middle age, when it typically starts to stabilize.

This disorder is usually present in both eyes, but it is often asymmetric. The severity of keratoconus varies from person to person, and our eye care specialists at SightMD can better evaluate a patient’s condition during a comprehensive consultation at one of our 23 office locations. Keratoconus is often passed down genetically and can affect multiple members of the same family. Other common risk factors for developing keratoconus include overexposure to UV rays, poorly fitted contact lenses, chronic eye inflammation and irritation, and excessive rubbing of the eyes.

Some individuals with keratoconus simply need glasses in order to see their best. Others require a hard contact lens to optimize their vision. A hard contact lens molds the cornea into a more spherical shape, greatly enhancing the vision. Contact lenses aren’t just for minor vision correction! Hard contact lenses can be a viable treatment option if you suffer from keratoconus and don’t require surgery. Hard contact lenses can give keratoconus patients significantly better vision and help make life easier.

The severity of keratoconus varies from person to person, and our eye care specialists can better evaluate a patient’s condition during a comprehensive consultation at one of our office locations. With proper treatment, many patients with keratoconus experience significant vision improvement.

Treatment Options

For those individuals who progress to a point where they become intolerant to wearing contact lenses or develop corneal scarring, surgery is required. Those patients require a corneal transplant. When a patient undergoes a corneal transplant, a donor cornea must be obtained. A donor cornea will come from an individual who has died and donated their eyes. Like any other transplant, there are some risks involved with a corneal transplant. These risks can include the eyes rejecting the corneal transplant, though this is rare.

During a corneal transplant, the patient’s cornea is removed and replaced with the donor cornea. Even after cornea transplants, very often a hard contact lens is required for the patient’s best vision. Nonetheless, visual prognosis is typically excellent after a corneal transplant. New treatments for keratoconus are on the horizon, as our SightMD professionals are at the forefront of innovative advances in corneal surgery.

A new therapy known as collagen cross-linking is being actively studied. This is a procedure done on the cornea of patients diagnosed with keratoconus and other types of corneal ectasias. While it cannot reverse the damage of keratoconus, it can halt its progression. By undergoing this treatment early in your diagnosis, you can eliminate the future need for a corneal transplant. This therapy is not currently FDA approved in the United States; however, it is being studied extensively and will likely become available in the near future.

Keratoconus can seem scary, especially when you feel like you’re losing your vision. However, thanks to new treatment options and state-of-the-art technology, you’ll get the best possible results when you are a patient at SightMD. Want more information about how we can help? Schedule a consultation with our talented team at Long Island’s SightMD today!

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