Our eyes are vital and we rely on them to fulfill our daily engagements. Maintaining good optical health is a necessity to keep on with regular life. Keratoconus is an eye disorder that can affect our everyday routines by vision impairment and develop into further stages if left untreated. This article will look into the development of this eye disorder and its precautionary measures.
What Is Keratoconus?
The word keratoconus is derived from Latins, where “kera” means cornea, and the “conus” is the cone. As the name interprets, it is a condition where the cornea (transparent front part) of the eye gets thinner and gradually bulges outward, forming a cone shape. Symptoms of this condition include;
- Light streaks
- Blurry vision
- Poor night vision
- Poor clarity of vision
- Frequent change in eyeglass prescription
Keratoconus affects about 1 in 2000 people where 7% of those affected have a family history. Although there is no exact reason for the cause of this condition, it is assumed to occur due to a combination of environmental, genetic, and hormonal factors. The high-risk factors in developing this disease are;
- Family history
- Constant eye squinting
- Overexposure to UV rays
- Poorly fitted contact lenses
- Chronic eye irritation
- Eye allergies
- Conditions like hay fever, asthma, down syndrome
Development And Treatment
Usually, the disease affects both eyes and can develop over time while simultaneously increasing the symptoms of poor vision. Progress often occurs in early childhood and late adulthood stages. However, this condition’s growth can be classified under four stages, and the keratoconus treatment will depend on each phase of the state.
- Stage 1 – Primary
This stage is often referred to as forme fruste keratoconus, where patients do not experience any signs or symptoms. Usually, it has a less impact on the vision where an eye doctor can fix the slight impairments by prescribing glasses. Patients are often treated for myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism (a condition where the eye is not completely round) during this initial stage.
- Stage 2 – Moderate
Deformations and changes can be observed during this stage, and eyeglasses cannot correct the vision impairment. A Rigid gas permeable contact lens is utilized here to provide quality vision. It is a hard contact lens made of plastics that allow oxygen to pass through the lens. They are available in different diameters ranging from 8.0-20.0mm (millimeters). These lenses help to neutralize 90% of corneal distortion in the eye. It also minimizes the refractive errors and provides better contrast with improved vision.
- Stage 3- Advanced
Extensive corneal distortion with moderate keratoconus changes can be seen at this level with receding corneal damages. When this happens, significant changes need to be done to the rigid gas permeable lens to fit in with the transpired deformation. A steeper inner curvature is required here to improve eye stability and comfort.
- Stage 4- Severe
It is difficult to correct your vision during this final stage of the keratoconus development, even by an advanced designed rigid gas permeable lens. This phase involves extreme corneal distortion along with scarring and thinning in the eye. During this, refraction is not measurable. Hence it is required to undergo a corneal transplant surgery by an eye surgeon.
Other Preventive Measures
Secondary treatments like corneal collagen crosslinking may help you prevent the condition from further development. In this treatment, ophthalmologists will use medical drops and UV light to make your eye collagen tissues stronger. A ring called Intacs can also be placed beneath the eye to flatten the cone shape.
Apart from these, following the practices such as, using sunglasses while outside, getting proper treatment for eye allergies, avoid squinting, and assuring the contact lenses fit well will help you to prevent keratoconus and vision impairment.
It is essential to have regular visits to eye clinics for early diagnosis and prevention as the initial treatments can be treated without surgical procedures and replacement. Our team at the New Vision Eye Center has the best professionals to treat all your eye problems.