Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. The cornea is the clear, central part of the surface of the eye. In patients with keratoconus, the cone-shaped cornea deflects light and causes distorted vision.
Causes of Keratoconus
Although many theories have been proposed, there is no definite known cause of keratoconus. Possible causes include genetics, a collagen deficiency, overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, or excessive eye-rubbing.
Sign and Symptoms of Keratoconus
Keratoconus often begins to develop in the teen years to the early 20s, although it can develop at any age. Changes in the shape of the cornea occur gradually, usually over several years. In most patients with keratoconus, both eyes eventually become affected.
Keratoconus can be difficult to detect because it usually develops very slowly. Signs of keratoconus may include:
- Distorted and blurred vision
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Double vision
- Headaches due to eye strain
- Light sensitivity
Your doctor will measure the curvature of your cornea to determine whether these symptoms are a result of keratoconus.
Treatment for Keratoconus
In the early stages of keratoconus, glasses or soft contact lenses may help to correct the nearsightedness and astigmatism associated with the disease. As the condition progresses and the cornea becomes increasingly thin, more advanced treatment is required.
INTACS are plastic rings inserted into the mid-layer of the cornea to flatten it, changing the shape and location of the cone. INTACS may be needed when the distorted vision from keratoconus can no longer be corrected with contact lenses or eyeglasses. The implants are removable and exchangeable. If the keratoconus continues to progress, however, INTACS can only delay the need for a corneal transplant, not prevent it.
Corneal Transplant Surgery
Surgery is needed for patients with advanced keratoconus, where other therapies no longer provide clear vision. This usually occurs in 15-20% of cases. In corneal transplant surgery, most of the cornea is removed and then replaced with a new donor cornea. The results of the procedure have a success rate of over 97%.
Call our offices for a consultation appointment with Dr. Siems: 702-948-2010 | 702-685-2410.