What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a condition in which a cornea that is normally round in shape becomes distorted and a cone-like protrusion develops. This bulge causes significant visual impairment and usually begins in the late teens or early twenties. The progression of keratoconus can last up to 15 years and as the disorder progresses, the cornea bulges and thins and in some cases scarring may occur. When the progression ends, the corneal shape is left stable for the remainder of the patient’s lifetime.
What Causes Keratoconus?
While the behavior of keratoconus is easy to explain from a clinical standpoint, science is still not able to fully explain why corneal changes caused by keratoconus occur in an individual. There are, however, several theories that may help shed light on the root causes of keratoconus. One theory is that the disorder is of a hereditary nature. While a Mendellian pattern is present in many cases of keratoconus, in others the pattern is completely absent. Newer, more advanced diagnostic methods may indicate that the familial tendencies of keratoconus is much more linked than previously thought. Another prevalent theory is that the disorder is of a degenerative nature. Many sufferers tend to habitually rub their eyes which some researchers believe can lead to corneal degeneration and as a result, ectasia. Still a third theory is that the condition is secondary to a disease process such as those with Down’s Syndrome or atopic skin disease.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
The first indication is normally blurred vision that can normally be corrected through the use of glasses. As the cornea stretches and thins, one may experience a sudden clouding in one eye that clears over next few weeks or months. This is a condition known as “acute hydrops” and occurs when fluid is suddenly infused into the stretched cornea. In more advanced cases of keratoconus, a patient may experience scarring at the apex of the corneal bulge which can result in additional vision loss.
How is Keratoconus Treated?
Dr. Sambursky and the team at Sambursky Laser Eye Center can treat keratoconus patients with INTACS® prescription inserts.
INTACS® are a great solution for patients who don’t do well with contact lends are not able to obtain satisfactory results with glasses or contacts. INTACS® are placed in the periphery of the cornea which helps flatten the cornea. There are many cases in which the use of INTACS® can postpone or eliminate the need for cornea transplant.