What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease where the cornea, the clear, dome-shaped front surface of the eye, thins and gradually bulges outward into a cone shape. This cone shape deflects light as it enters the eye, causing distorted vision.

Symptoms of Keratoconus

Keratoconus can affect one or both eyes and often begins in adolescence or early adulthood. Symptoms include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision: The cone shape of the cornea causes vision to become blurry or distorted.
  • Increased sensitivity to light: Patients may experience discomfort or difficulty seeing in bright light.
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions: As keratoconus progresses, vision may fluctuate, requiring frequent updates to prescriptions.
  • Difficulty with night vision: Reduced clarity and increased glare can make driving at night challenging.
  • Double vision in one eye: This can occur in advanced stages of the condition.
  • Inability to see well with only glasses: as the irregularity of the cornea progresses, vision through glasses becomes distorted and specialty contacts must be used to enable clear vision.

Causes and Risk Factors

While the exact cause of keratoconus is unknown, several factors may increase the risk, including:

  • Genetics: A family history of keratoconus can increase the likelihood of developing the condition.
  • Chronic eye inflammation: Conditions like allergies and asthma can lead to chronic eye inflammation, contributing to keratoconus.
  • Overexposure to UV rays: Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage the cornea.
  • Excessive eye rubbing: Frequent and vigorous eye rubbing has been linked to the development and progression of keratoconus.

Diagnosis of Keratoconus

Diagnosing keratoconus involves a comprehensive eye examination, which includes:

  • Refraction: This test determines the correct prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses.
  • Keratometry: Measures the curvature of the cornea to detect changes in shape.
  • Corneal topography: A detailed mapping of the cornea’s surface to identify and monitor the cone shape.
  • Pachymetry: Measures the thickness of the cornea

Treatment Options for Keratoconus

At Premier Vision of Dallas, Dr. Allen specializes in diagnosing and treating keratoconus with advanced, individualized care. Treatment options include:

Eyeglasses and Soft Contact Lenses

In the early stages of keratoconus, eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may be sufficient to correct vision. However, as the condition progresses, these options may no longer provide adequate vision correction.

Custom Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses

RGP lenses are designed to sit on the eye’s surface, providing a smooth, regular shape to the cornea, which helps correct vision distortion caused by keratoconus. These lenses are custom fitted to each patient’s cornea for optimal comfort and vision correction.

Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses are larger than standard rigid contact lenses and vault over the cornea, resting on the sclera (the white part of the eye). These lenses are particularly beneficial for patients with advanced keratoconus, as they provide a smooth optical surface and improve comfort and vision.

Intacs

Intacs are tiny, clear, crescent-shaped inserts that are surgically placed in the cornea to help flatten it, improving vision and reducing the need for corneal transplant. This minimally invasive procedure can provide significant improvement in vision and corneal shape.

Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL)

Corneal Cross-Linking is an innovative treatment designed to strengthen the corneal tissue and halt the progression of keratoconus. This procedure involves applying riboflavin (vitamin B2) eye drops to the cornea, which are then activated with ultraviolet light. This process helps to form new collagen cross-links, strengthening the cornea. Corneal Cross Linking does not change the irregularity of the cornea, but it does halt the progression and need for corneal transplant. 

Corneal Transplant

In severe cases where other treatments are ineffective, a corneal transplant may be necessary. During this procedure, the damaged cornea is replaced with a healthy donor cornea. There are two main types of corneal transplants:

  • Penetrating keratoplasty (PK): A full-thickness transplant that replaces the entire cornea.
  • Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK): A partial-thickness transplant that replaces only the outer and middle layers of the cornea, preserving the inner endothelial layer.

Post-Treatment Care and Management

After treatment, ongoing care is essential to monitor and maintain eye health. Regular follow-up appointments with Dr. Allen ensure that your eyes are healing properly and that your vision correction remains optimal. Patients should also adhere to prescribed eye care routines, such as using recommended eye drops and avoiding eye rubbing.

Why Choose Premier Vision of Dallas?

At Premier Vision of Dallas, we provide comprehensive, compassionate eye care. Dr. Allen and our experienced team use the latest technologies and treatment methods to manage keratoconus effectively. Our patient-centered approach ensures that you receive personalized care tailored to your specific needs.

Contact Premier Vision of Dallas

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of keratoconus, do not wait to seek professional help. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent further vision deterioration and improve quality of life. Contact Premier Vision of Dallas today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Allen. Our friendly staff is here to assist you with all your eye care needs.

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Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease that causes the cornea (the clear, dome-shaped front surface of the eye) to thin and bulge into a cone shape, leading to distorted vision.

The exact cause of keratoconus is unknown, but factors such as genetics, chronic eye inflammation, excessive eye rubbing, and overexposure to UV rays may contribute to its development.

Individuals with a family history of keratoconus, those with chronic eye conditions like allergies or asthma, and those who frequently rub their eyes are at a higher risk of developing the condition.

Symptoms include blurred or distorted vision, increased sensitivity to light, frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions, difficulty with night vision, and double vision in one eye.

Keratoconus is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam, which may include tests such as refraction, keratometry, corneal topography, and pachymetry.

Treatment options include eyeglasses and soft contact lenses for early stages, custom rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses, scleral lenses, Intacs, corneal cross-linking (CXL), and in severe cases, corneal transplants.

While there is no cure for keratoconus, treatments can manage the condition, improve vision, and halt its progression. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for the best outcomes.

Corneal cross-linking is an effective treatment for halting the progression of keratoconus by strengthening the corneal tissue. It is particularly beneficial in the early stages of the disease.

Keratoconus can run in families, suggesting a genetic component. However, other factors like environmental influences and eye rubbing also play a role.

Recovery time varies depending on the treatment. For example, recovery from corneal cross-linking can take several weeks, while recovery from a corneal transplant may take several months. Your eye care provider will give you specific guidelines based on your treatment.

Yes, many patients with keratoconus wear specially designed contact lenses such as rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses or scleral lenses, which help improve vision by providing a smooth optical surface.

If you notice a worsening of your vision, it is important to schedule an appointment with your eye care provider promptly. Early intervention can help manage the condition and prevent further deterioration.

Regular eye exams are crucial for monitoring keratoconus. Your eye care provider will recommend a schedule based on the severity of your condition and your treatment plan.

Yes, Keratoconus often affects both eyes, but the severity can differ between eyes.

Driving with Keratoconus can be challenging, especially at night or in bright light. It is important to discuss your vision concerns with your eye care provider to ensure you have the appropriate vision correction for safe driving.

While you cannot prevent Keratoconus, you can take steps to avoid exacerbating the condition, such as avoiding eye rubbing and protecting your eyes from UV exposure by wearing sunglasses. Regular check-ups with your eye care provider can also help manage the condition effectively.

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