Keratoconus is the thinning of the cornea – the clear dome-shaped outer surface of your eye. Eventually, the cornea bulges outward into a cone shape causing blurred vision, sensitivity to light and difficulty seeing at night. Keratoconus most commonly affects individuals between the ages of 10 to 25, and the chance of developing it increases if it runs in the family.

The shape of the cornea is a critical factor for maintaining good vision. If the cornea thins and bulges into a cone shape, then it changes the focus of light rays as they move into your eye. The result is distorted, blurry vision. These problems can have a negative impact on daily activities such as driving, reading, or working. So, it is important to watch for potential signs so that you can talk to an optometrist in Chicago if any concerns arise.

Treatments for Keratoconus

Different treatment options are available, depending on the severity. The best thing that you can do is schedule an appointment with an experienced eye doctor in Chicago for personalized recommendations. This exam can determine the extent of the disease, helping you find the best thin cornea treatment to match your needs.

Mild to Moderate Keratoconus may be treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Another treatment is called Corneal Collagen Crosslinking, which uses riboflavin and UV light to strengthen the cornea. Often this treatment is used in addition to the insertion of Intacs. Intacs corneal implants are two small crescent-shaped pieces made of a plastic polymer, which are inserted into the cornea to support the
cornea’s shape, leading to improved vision.

If the cornea becomes scarred, making it painful to wear contacts, surgery is another option. Recovery from this surgery can take up to one year, and you may need to continue wearing rigid contacts to ensure clear vision.

Early Keratoconus Treatment to Protect Your Vision

Keratoconus can worsen over time so early detection is key. If you notice any of the symptoms, it is best to schedule an appointment right away, so we can work with you to make sure you have the best vision possible! Even if you don’t have any noticeable symptoms, regular eye exams are a great solution to identify eye diseases in the early stages. Your eyes might feel fine, but an experienced optometrist can take a close look to see any discrepancies that might indicate a problem.

As with all types of eye diseases, early treatment can slow the progression of keratoconus. In many situations, damage from an eye disease can’t be reversed. But, slowing the progress and protecting your vision is a great way to maintain healthy eyes for as long as possible.

How Common is Keratoconus?

This disorder is the most common corneal dystrophy in the U.S., affecting one in every 2000 Americans. It is more prevalent in teenagers and adults in their 20s. Keratoconus arises when the middle of the cornea thins and gradually bulges outward, forming a rounded cone shape. This abnormal curvature changes the cornea’s refractive power, producing moderate to severe distortion (astigmatism) and blurriness (nearsightedness) of vision. Keratoconus may also cause swelling and a sight-impairing scarring of the tissue.

It is possible that you might have this eye disease without realizing that there is a problem. Even if your eyes are in seemingly good health, you should plan regular exams.

What Causes Keratoconus?

Studies indicate that keratoconus stems from one of several possible causes:

– An inherited corneal abnormality. About seven percent of those with the condition have a family history of keratoconus.
– An eye injury, i.e., excessive eye rubbing or wearing hard contact lenses for many years.
– Certain eye diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa, retinopathy of prematurity, and vernal keratoconjunctivitis.
– Systemic diseases, such as Leber’s congenital amaurosis, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Down syndrome, and osteogenesis imperfecta.

If your family has a history of keratoconus or any of these possible risk factors apply to you, then you need to talk to our team for more information. We will assess your risk and offer suggestions to minimize the long-term problems. A thin cornea treatment can protect your vision in the future.

Symptoms of Keratoconus 

Keep in mind that the symptoms can vary in each eye. Be aware of the changing vision that might occur so that you can identify the symptoms in the early stages. In the beginning, symptoms are mild and might include:

– Visual blurring
– Distortion, causing straight lines to look wavy
– Sensitivity to glare and light
– Eye swelling or redness

As keratoconus progresses, the symptoms continue getting worse. If the eye disease is left untreated, then you might notice these symptoms:

– Severe distortion or blurriness
– Increasing astigmatism or nearsightedness, resulting in the need to change glasses or contacts frequently for new prescriptions
– Contact lenses are uncomfortable, even to the point where you can no longer wear contacts because of the discomfort

Usually, it takes several years for the symptoms to progress from the mild stages to the late stages. But, some people experience symptoms that change quickly, which is why it is important to maintain regular appointments with an experienced optometrist.

A routine eye exam can be used to diagnose the condition. Your eye doctor can measure the curve of the cornea and see if there are any changes in the shape of the eye.

Will Keratoconus Affect Both Eyes?

Keratoconus usually affects both eyes. At first, people can correct their vision with eyeglasses. But as the astigmatism worsens, they must rely on specially fitted contact lenses to reduce the distortion and provide better vision. Although finding a comfortable contact lens can be an extremely frustrating and difficult process, it is crucial because a poorly fitting lens could further damage the cornea and make wearing a contact lens intolerable.

In most cases, the cornea will stabilize after a few years without ever causing severe vision problems. But in about 10 to 20 percent of people with keratoconus, the cornea will eventually become too scarred or will not tolerate a contact lens. If either of these problems occurs, a corneal transplant may be needed. This operation is successful in more than 90 percent of those with advanced symptoms. Several studies have also reported that 80 percent or more of these patients have 20/40 vision or better after the operation.

Do you have questions about keratoconus? Call us to schedule an appointment in the Chicago area.