Keratoconus Treatments

Keratoconus is an eye disease in which the cornea gets progressively thinner, causing the normal spherical shape to bulge until it’s cone-shaped and irregular. Light passing through the eye is distorted by the irregular shape and causes blurry vision. The condition, which typically affects both eyes to some degree, is relatively common and is estimated to affect 1 out of every 2,000 people.

It often develops in your teens and gradually worsens, causing irregular astigmatism that often cannot be corrected with lenses alone. Keratoconus occurs in all parts of the United States and the rest of the world. It has no known significant geographic, cultural, or social pattern.

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Let’s look at the treatment options for keratoconus.

Treatment Options

Diagnosis and Risk Factors for Keratoconus

In its earliest stages, keratoconus causes slight blurring and distortion of vision and increased sensitivity to light. These symptoms usually first appear in the late teens and early 20s. Keratoconus may progress for 10 to 20 years and then slow or stabilize. Most of the time, people with the condition use eyeglasses or soft contact lenses to correct the mild nearsightedness and astigmatism caused in the early stages of keratoconus. As the cornea continues to thin and change shape, rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses are typically used because they have a greater impact on the distorted vision.

Even though anyone can develop keratoconus, some risk factors can increase the chances of someone being affected. These include:

  • Heredity—If someone in your family has keratoconus, your chances of developing the disease increase
  • Overexposure to ultraviolet rays
  • Poorly fitted contacts
  • Chronic eye rubbing
  • Certain diseases, including atopic disease and connective tissue disorders
  • Down Syndrome

A board-certified ophthalmologist can diagnose the condition.

Keratoconus is a disease that causes the cornea to thin and bulge outward into a cone shape.

Treatment Options

Many options for treating keratoconus are now offered at nJoy Vision. These include Intacs®, corneal collagen crosslinking, and laser-assisted corneal transplant surgery—Intralase Enabled Keratoplasty (IEK).

  • Corneal collagen crosslinking: The FDA approved a specific type of corneal collagen crosslinking in 2016 and this treatment has been widely used internationally to halt the progression of keratoconus.
  • Intacs: Also called corneal ring implants, Intacs are approved and can provide a more stable and regular shape to the cornea.
  • Corneal transplant: In more severe cases, a surgical transplant may be needed due to scarring, extreme thinning, or because the eyes don’t tolerate contact lenses. This procedure replaces the keratoconus cornea with healthy donor tissue.

Traditionally, few options were available to treat keratoconus, with patients limited to either rigid gas permeable contact lenses or a corneal transplant. At nJoy Vision, we’re among the industry leaders in providing the education and treatment options necessary to successfully manage this vision-threatening condition.

Keratoconus FAQs

Does keratoconus affect both eyes?

Keratoconus is normally found in both eyes, although the distortion is usually asymmetrical and is rarely identical between eyes. nJoy Vision offers advanced diagnostic technology, which can aid in the diagnosis of the stage of the disease in each eye.

Keratoconus is reported to affect 1 in every 2,000 people.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can vary, but these are the most common signs of keratoconus:

  • Minor blurring of the vision (early)
  • Light sensitivity
  • Decreasing visual acuity, sometimes rapidly
  • Vision may be worse in one eye
  • Poor night vision
  • Multiple “ghost” images
  • Streaking and/or flaring of vision around light sources
  • Need for frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions
  • Headaches and general eye pain

Can it be treated?

Treatment normally begins by fitting the patient with soft toric, specialty contact lenses, or rigid gas permeable contact lenses. At some point, patients may be unable to tolerate these lenses any longer and then require further treatment, such as Intacs®, corneal collagen crosslinking (CXL)*, or laser corneal transplant.

If you’ve noticed changes in your vision and are looking in the Oklahoma City area for an ophthalmology practice, request a free consultation at nJoy Vision or call our office at (405) 842-6060 to discuss your options with one of our specialists.

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*Corneal Collagen Crosslinking is frequently performed worldwide and is not FDA approved in the United States when performed with specific equipment and medication. There are also several clinical studies underway in the U.S.