What Is Keratoconus and Corneal Disease?

Keratoconus and Corneal Disease: Diagnosis, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Keratoconus is a degenerative, progressive disease in which the cornea thins and bulges into a cone shape losing its natural symmetry. KERATO (cornea) and CONUS (cone-shaped) are derived from the changes that happen to the cornea. It can happen quickly or gradually for several years.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that approximately 1 out of every 2000 people develop Keratoconus, commonly during puberty between the age of 10 and 25.

Keratoconus leads to corneal abnormalities such as vision problems, including blurred vision (irregular astigmatism), nearsightedness (myopia), and corneal scarring and vision loss.

Fortunately, Keratoconus is treatable in several ways to prevent it from worsening. At CV Optometry, our optometrists have the expertise to diagnose and treat Keratoconus and will help you understand and explore your options.

Types and Stages of Keratoconus

Keratoconus has three stages: moderate/early, intermediate, and advanced. The signs and symptoms for each stage are as follows:

Stage 1

You may have no symptoms. Optometrists may recommend contact lenses or glasses to counter astigmatism and short-sightedness.

Stage 2

Corneal thinning and changing shape are apparent at this stage. Specialists will often combine laser treatment and cross-linking to prevent further progression. Laser refractive cross-linking improves vision and reduces astigmatism.

Stage 3

Corneal scarring and thinning are most evident in the advanced stage of the condition. Corneal transplants and ring segments are done in this stage.

What Causes Keratoconus?

Keratoconus does not have an exact cause; however, research shows that environmental and genetic factors cause most cases. Certain factors may increase the risk of the condition, such as:

- Family history of eye problems
- Allergic and medical conditions
- History of chronic rubbing of eyes
- Poor sleeping patterns
- Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos, Stickler, or Marfan syndrome.

Keratoconus is triggered by decreased antioxidants in the cornea, causing it to weaken and bulge out.

What are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?

Most patients are unaware they have Keratoconus during its early stages because they do not have any symptoms. The symptoms become noticeable as the condition develops.

Symptoms include:
- Headaches and eye irritation
- Increasingly poor vision
- Blurry vision
- Short-sightedness (myopia)
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Double vision in one eye or both eyes
- Poor vision at night
- Glare and 'halos' around light
- Irregular astigmatism
- Frequent change in glasses prescription
- Thinning of the cornea
- Scarring of the cornea

Consult with our specialized optometrists if you have any of the mentioned symptoms. An eye check-up will prevent further damage and loss of vision if the symptoms are present.

Diagnosis of Keratoconus is often performed during the assessment for laser vision corrections. It can also be diagnosed in cases of rapidly changing astigmatism.

During a consultation, our specialists will perform screening for Keratoconus, including an assessment for symptoms. Your cornea is scanned using topography scans to obtain a detailed analysis of the condition and structure of your cornea.

What is the Treatment for Keratoconus?

Treatment of Keratoconus focuses on twofold:

- Prevent the progression of the disease
- Improve the patient's vision

Soft contact lenses and spectacles are often prescribed in the early stages. As the corneal shape becomes asymmetrical, specialty lenses (such as scleral, hybrid, or RGP lenses) are recommended for the patient.

If scarring is present in advanced stages, doctors might recommend corneal transplants of the whole corneal area (penetrating keratoplasty). Alternatively, a 95% transplant of the cornea-deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK) may be performed for visual rehabilitation.

Corneal collagen cross-linking is performed to rectify the condition, and recovery time is usually 3-6 months.

At CV Optometry, experienced optometrists offer assessment, testing, and treatment. Book a consultation or contact us at 760-347- 6636 to speak to an eye specialist early if you're showing any symptoms of Keratoconus.