The eyes are one of the most important organs in the body as they help you navigate the world around you. However, certain eye diseases can cause a significant disruption in your daily life. One such disorder is keratoconus, an eye condition that affects the cornea—the clear outer layer of the eye.
No cure yet exists for keratoconus, but there are ways to manage the condition to keep vision sharper in the long term. If you’re at heightened risk of developing keratoconus, maintaining regular eye exams is critical to monitor changes in your eye structures.
What Is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease in which the cornea gets thinner and bulges outward like a cone. This general deformation of the cornea causes light entering the eye to scatter irregularly, resulting in distorted, blurry vision.
The symptoms of keratoconus can be similar to those of other eye disorders, making eye exams crucial to detecting corneal changes. Symptoms include:
- Distorted vision that gradually worsens
- Double vision
- Sensitivity to light and halos
In the early stages, eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may help correct vision. As the condition progresses, specialized contact lenses such as gas permeable (RGP) or scleral lenses may be needed to reduce distortions and minimize glare.
Patients with keratoconus may experience mild to severe symptoms, with the degree and nature of symptoms varying from person to person.
Causes of Keratoconus
The root cause of keratoconus is still not well-understood, but genetics and environmental factors likely play a role. Researchers believe genetics could lead to keratoconus in many cases, but it can still develop without a family history.
Other causes of keratoconus include:
- Rubbing of the eyes
- Eye allergies
- Connective tissue disorders
Diagnosis of Keratoconus
The diagnosis process of keratoconus starts with a thorough eye examination performed by a qualified eye doctor. Some tests that help confirm a keratoconus diagnosis include:
- Keratometry: Doctors generally use a keratometer, an instrument that measures the curvature of the cornea.
- Corneal mapping: Another vital diagnostic tool is corneal topography, which creates a detailed map of the cornea’s curvature by collecting data from thousands of small points on its surface.
- Slit-lamp examination: An optometrist can detect changes in the cornea’s shape and thickness.
While there is currently no cure for keratoconus, several treatments can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Glasses and soft contact lenses can help correct mild to moderate cases of keratoconus by altering how light enters the eye. Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses are another option that can help restore clear vision by providing a new surface for the distorted cornea to rest on.
Contact Lenses for Keratoconus
As keratoconus progresses, eyeglasses may not be enough to adequately correct vision. But contact lens technology dispensed by experts can provide clear vision as it becomes more distorted.
Your keratoconus is one-of-a-kind, so mass-produced contact lenses may not provide ideal vision correction.
Using EyePrintPRO technology, a 3D scan of your eyes is used to create custom lenses to perfectly fit the misshapen cornea. The precision of these kinds of lenses can help support clear vision.
The imaging method can map the cornea’s surface and determine which specialty lens may be right for your keratoconus, to address the developing myopia or astigmatism.
To test how well light passes through the cornea, Wavefront technology maps the ocular surface. It creates a corneal fingerprint unique to your eyes to chart a comprehensive view of any refractive errors. This can help your optometrist fit the ideal contact lenses to your eyes.
Anterior Segment Optical Coherence Tomography
OCT, or optical coherence tomography, creates cross-sectional images of the cornea and frontal structures of the eye. This technology can detect irregularities or problems with the ocular surface and cornea to better fit contacts comfortably to your unique eyes.
Specialty Contact Lenses
For more advanced cases of keratoconus, scleral contact lenses or hybrid contact lenses are the recommended treatment. Scleral contact lenses are a type of RGP lens that vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, providing stable and clear vision.
Hybrid contact lenses have a rigid center and a soft outer ring that provides the comfort of soft contacts with the clarity of RGP lenses.
If keratoconus is diagnosed, your eye care practitioner will work closely with you to design a treatment plan that fits your needs and lifestyle.
Manage Keratoconus with the Right Lenses
Keratoconus is a challenging eye disorder that can significantly impact vision. However, with early detection and proper care, its effects can be mitigated with diagnostic tools and specialty lenses.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of keratoconus or any other eye disorder, schedule an eye exam at Eye Rx. A comprehensive eye exam can help detect eye diseases early, leading to prompt treatment and a positive outlook on visual health.