What is keratoconus ?
Keratoconus or conical cornea is an eye disease or condition in which front of your eye or cornea gets thinner and thinner bulging outward forming a cone shape. This change in shape of cornea results in blurred vision and can also result in more sensitivity to bright lights and glares. Generally both the eyes are affected by Keratoconus, though the degree of damage differs in both eye. It affects one eye more than other.
At an early stage of this disease, the vision problems can be managed with the help of glasses or lenses. But if the stage advances, corneal surgery or corneal transplant may be the only treatment to cure this disease. Other treatment includes corneal collagen cross linking.
What causes Keratoconus?
Though the exact cause is not clear, latest researches suggest that the weakening of the corneal tissue due to imbalance on enzymes present within the cornea leads to keratoconus. This imbalance makes the cornea more susceptible to oxidative damage from compounds called free radicals, causing it to weaken and bulge forward.
More exposure to UV radiations from sun, prolonged eye irritation and allergies, family history are the major causes of this disease. It was found that 10% of the total patient with Keratoconus had one of their parents with same disease.
What are the symptoms of Keratoconus?
Signs and Symptoms of this disease differs in early stages and in advanced stages. Some of the common symptoms includes :-
- Blurred vision or inability to clear view things
- Sensitivity to lights and glares
- Problem with night vision (generally it seems impossible to drive in night)
- Irritation in eyes and headaches
- Distortion in vision
What are the risk factors ?
Some of the factors make you more likely to develop Keratoconus. These are :-
- Family history of keratoconus.
- Previous history of eye diseases and allergies.
- If you continuously rub your eyes.
- Age is also a risk factor for it. It usually starts when you are 10.
- Inflammation from allergy or infections.
- More exposure to UV rays.
- Poorly fitted contact lenses.
How is keratoconus diagnosed ?
It can be diagnosed with regular eye check ups. Several test can be performed in order to measure the shape and size of the curvature of cornea. This measurement is necessary to diagnose Keratoconus.
How to treat Keratoconus?
Treatment for this disease depends on the stage of the disease.
- Glasses and soft lenses :- During the early stage, it can be treated with the help of glasses and soft lenses. Glasses helps in correcting refractive disorders in the early stages only, later glasses are no longer helpful.
- Corneal collagen cross linking :- Progressive keratoconus can be treated by corneal collagen cross-linking. This one-time, in-office procedure involves the application of a vitamin B solution to the eye, which is then activated by ultraviolet light for about 30 minutes or less. The solution causes new collagen bonds to form, recovering and preserving some of the cornea’s strength and shape.
- Corneal transplant :- When the disease advances and makes your condition worst then corneal transplant can help in treating it. In a corneal transplant, a patient’s damaged cornea is replaced with donated cornea. Corneal transplants are often performed on an outpatient basis and take about an hour to complete. After the surgery, proper medication and regular check up is a must. In almost all cases, glasses or a contact lens are necessary to provide the clearest vision after transplant surgery.