Along with nearsightedness, many other eye disorders could affect a person in their teen years. One such eye disorder is Keratoconus which usually starts developing at a young age and advances over the years. Here is everything to help you know if you are at the risk of developing Keratoconus.
The cornea is the dome-shaped, clear window present in the front portion of the eye. Also, called the windshield of the eye, it is the part of the eye through which we see. The cornea sometimes doesn’t have enough strength to hold its shape that is dome-like and ends up bulging outward like a cone.
Keratoconus is a type of eye disorder that is caused due to thinning and outward bulging of the cornea near its center in the conical shape. The changed shape of the cornea prevents the light rays from focussing. The vision is hence blurred, and the person finds it difficult in carrying out common activities like reading and driving. This condition does not cause total blindness, but the lack of treatment can leave the person visually impaired.
This condition is mostly seen in the teen years or the early twenties. It can affect either one or both the eyes. Some of the treatment options available these days have successfully helped some people in leading normal lives.
What causes Keratoconus?
The cornea consists of tiny fibers of a protein called collagen. These collagens help the cornea in preventing bulging. Once these fibers start to weaken it becomes difficult for the cornea to hold the dome shape and it eventually bulges in the cone shape.
Keratoconus could be caused due to the significant decrease in the antioxidants that are present in the cornea. The cells of the cornea produce by-products that could be harmful to the eye. These antioxidants protect the collagen fibers from the effects of the products. The collagen is affected by the products if the number of antioxidants is low which would lead to the bulging of the cornea due to the weak collagen fibers.
It is believed that Keratoconus could be an inherited condition. The parents suffering from this condition should get their kids checked up around the age of 10. This disease is also related to other problems like:
- Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
- Allergic conditions like eczema and asthma
- Excess eye rubbing
- Ill-fitted contact lenses
- Chronic eye irritation
How can the condition be diagnosed?
Keratoconus can change the shape of the cornea from smooth to wavy, or it could expand and result in nearsightedness. The patients find it difficult to see things that are far away. Few signs and symptoms that could help identify the condition are:
Related Article: Keratoconus: What are its causes and Treatment options?
- Noticeable change of vision in of the eyes.
- Mild to moderate blurring of the vision
- Double vision from one eye
- Distortion of vision including the wavy appearance of straight lines.
- Bright lights with halo appearance around them
- Objects both near and far are distorted
- Sensitivity to light and glare has increased
- Redness or swelling
- Double or triple ghost appearances seen
- Increase in the existing nearsightedness
- Trouble in driving especially at night.
- Contacts lenses do not fit and cause problems while wearing
The doctors treat the mild forms of Keratoconus by prescribing soft contact lenses or eyeglasses. The progression of the disease usually leads to the thinning and irregularity of the cornea due to which the glasses and the lenses start proving ineffective in vision correction. Here are a few treatment options that are available for the later stages of the disease:
- Corneal cross-linking: In this procedure, the corneal tissue is strengthened to stop it from bulging forward.
- Custom made soft contact lenses: The patient’s affected eye or eyes are measured, and the custom contact lenses are made. It is mostly done in mild cases.
- Gas permeable contact lenses: They are considered as a replacement in cases where the soft contact lenses are unable to control the condition.
- Piggybacking contact lenses: The doctor piggyback two different kinds of lenses in an eye where placing one is difficult due to the shape.
- Prosthetic lenses: In patients suffering from several diseases these lenses are placed in the form of a prosthetic shell.
- Corneal transplant: This is the final treatment option preferred if none of the other methods work.
It is recommended by Nashville Optometrist, Dr. Durocher, to get your eye regularly checked up as the early diagnosis can prevent the condition from worsening. It usually takes years for the condition to reach its later stage.