Keratoconus

The cornea in the eyes is the front surface that is responsible for vision and it also protects the eyes from external factors. In some cases, it can bulge outwards and lead to Keratoconus condition. This happens due to the weakening of collagen fibres that are responsible for holding the cornea in the proper position. In most cases, this can be noticed in children and have a family history of such condition will increase the chances of getting Keratoconus. Even though it can affect adults, it is very rare and usually, children get affected the most with this condition. It can even take many years for complete damage to happen in some cases. When it reaches advanced stages, it can lead to vision blurring and other complications. When it happens in one eye, it can quickly affect the other one and you need to take suitable treatment at the right time to avoid this condition. In most cases, it becomes necessary to use contact lens or glasses to correct the vision when you are suffering from this condition. In advanced stages, transplanting the cornea will yield better results.

Symptoms of Keratoconus

-  When you are suffering from this condition, your eyes may become more sensitive to light. This will become increasingly obvious during night time when you go out of home to the streets. You will notice that the lights also glare and almost hurt your eyes with the brightness. Many people suffering from this condition have problems with night driving.

-  If you are also experiencing such symptoms, you need to discuss the issues with an eye specialist and get suitable treatment at the right time. Make sure that you go for a regular eye test once in six months as this will help you to monitor the condition in a better way.

-  If you are wearing prescription glasses for better vision, you may notice a sudden change in the levels without any reason. Also, this can happen frequently when you are suffering from keratoconus. You should take these symptoms seriously and go for a detailed diagnosis to identify the problem.

-  When you develop double vision or distorted vision all of a sudden, you need to be worried as this can be a clear symptom of this condition. You may also experience blurred vision in many cases due to this condition.

-  Some people also experience clouding of vision and this can happen frequently when you are affected by Keratoconus. There will also be a drastic decrease in your vision capabilities due to this condition.

-  You may also have mild itching sensation in the inside of the eyes and you feel like rubbing your eyes to get rid of the irritation. This is also a common symptom of Keratoconus and you need to visit your doctor for further diagnosis.

Causes of Keratoconus

-  The exact cause of this condition is not yet known and it usually happens when collagen become weak due to various factors.

-  It is also noted that this condition runs in families and when you are having this condition, you should be prepared to deal with this condition with regards to your children. Make it a point to get them checked early during their teenage as this is when the condition can get triggered in most cases. When you notice the symptoms in the early stages, it becomes easy to treat it with corrective measures using lenses and other medication.

-  When the body does not have strong collagen fibres, it will not be able to hold the cornea in its place and this will lead to bulging over a period of time. It can progress quickly in some cases and very slowly take many years in other cases.

-  The cornea cells in the eyes also produce waste which is removed by the antioxidants in the eyes. When the level of antioxidants reduces in this region, it can lead to a weakening of the collagen and this will later bulge out from its normal position.

Diagnosis of Keratoconus

-  The diagnosis of this condition will begin with the physical examination of the affected area. You need to approach the eye specialist for this test and they will go through the symptoms and arrange for the suitable diagnosis to determine the condition.

- Slit lamp test : In this procedure, the doctors will use a microscopic device that has a beam of light at the end to examine your eye. This will give some insights about the overall shape of the cornea and your doctors may be able to identify specific problems in this region.

-  In some cases, the patients are given eye drops to dilate the pupils. This will allow the doctors to get a clear view of the back side region and they will be able to get a clear understanding about the condition.

- Eye Refraction test : This device will allow the doctors to measure different parameters of the eyes and determine any problems with the vision. The doctors can get a complete idea about the sharpest vision your eyes are able to generate using the device and this can help them to understand problems with the corneal region.

- Keratometry : In this test, the actual shape of the corneal region is determined by focusing a ray of light on this region. The reflection produced by the cornea will give a clear idea about its shape and this will help the doctors to identify any problem in this region.

- Corneal mapping : In this computerized photographic test, the images of the corneal region are recorded and this will give a clear idea about the thickness of the cornea. When there is any reduction or swelling in this region, it will indicate some problems with the eyes and your doctor will suggest for the diagnosis to understand the situation.

-  Some of the tests may be repeated within a few days to get accurate results about problems in the corneal region.

Prevention of Keratoconus

To begin with, you need to understand that the exact cause of this condition is not yet established and this makes it difficult to identify the preventive measures to be taken to avoid this condition. However, it is generally observed that aggressive rubbing of the eyes can lead to complications with the corneal region and you should avoid them at any cost. If dust or any other irritation is causing an itching sensation in the eyes, you should ideally wash them with clean water to get some relief in this situation. Apart from that, you should also go for a regular eye checkup so that you will be able to identify the problems in the initial stages itself and this will help you to recover quickly from this condition.

Treatment for Keratoconus

-  If the problem is still in the initial stages, it can be easily treated by using contact lenses or prescription eyeglasses. This will rectify the situation within a few years of regular usage and you will not further complications with vision.

-  The most common problem associated with this condition is blurred vision and wearing prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses can bring relief to this situation. However, the only complication with this treatment is that you will have to regularly change the glasses or contact lenses due to the changing shape of the cornea during the treatment process.

-  It is also suggested for a few patients to avoid wearing hard contact lenses as this can increase the symptoms of pain in the corneal region. On the other hand, it is a good solution for many people and this will provide good vision clarity in such patients.

-  When your corneal region is sensitive to hard contact lenses, you can go for the hybrid lenses that comes with a soft ring outside the rigid central portion. This provides added comfort and you will be able to get the best clarity vision in this manner.

-  When the shape of your cornea is changed due to the condition, you can choose scleral lenses that will be comfortably placed on the white region of the eyes, unlike the regular lenses that sit on the cornea. The unique advantage of choosing such glasses is that it can be easily customised to suit the shape of your corneal region and this gives a comfortable fit without any inconvenience.

-  When everything else has failed, you can go for plastic inserts into the corneal region that will support the shape of the cornea and improve the vision in a gradual manner. This is ideally suited when the condition is progressing at a slow pace and when your eyes are not fit for surgery. There is no need to worry about the corneal inserts as they can be later removed after the condition returns to normal in future.

-  Finally, you can go for the cornea transplant surgery and this will give long lasting results for many patients suffering from advanced stages of keratoconus. Depending on the damage done to the corneal region, the surgery may remove only a small part of the cornea and replace it with the transplant surgery or go for a complete cornea transplant. In this situation, the treatment takes a long time and you need to be very careful about protecting your eyes after the surgery.

Complications of Keratoconus

-  The biggest complication to arise out of this condition is that the swelling can progress very quickly in some cases. However, there are also cases where the swelling progresses very slowly and takes many years to reach advanced stages.

-  When the spelling progresses at a rapid pace, it can scar the cornea and create various complications in the future.

-  It can also lead to reduced vision capabilities and you will have problems with your everyday activities.

-  The cornea is more likely to get scared in the region where the cone is affected and this can even lead to vision loss in extreme cases.

-  When you have reached this stage, there is no other option left but to go for a cornea transplant surgery.

-  You should also be very careful after getting treatment for this condition and avoid prolonged exposure to dust and other toxic chemicals. This will ensure that your eyes will be protected from further damage in the future.

Myths about Keratoconus

Myth #1: Hard contact lenses stop progression

This is completely false and there is no reason to believe that using hard contact lens will keep the cornea in its place and avoid further degradation. On the other hand, there is proper medical evidence to believe that this can cause further complications with increased pain and discomfort in the corneal region. For this reason, you should always take the suggestion of your doctor before choosing hard contact lenses when you are suffering from this condition.

Myth #2: Keratoconus affects only young children

While it is true that most of the patients are youngsters, there is no reason to believe that it cannot affect adults. You are more likely to get this condition when you have a family history of this disease. Even in otherwise normal healthy people, there are chances of getting this condition at a later stage.

Myth #3: Corneal transplant is the only option

There are many other ways to treat this condition and surgery is usually preferred only when the damage is very severe and the condition has reached advanced stages. In a normal situation, it can be easily treated using medication and other non-invasive treatment methods.

Conclusion

There is no need to panic when you are diagnosed with this condition as treatment is readily available and you can easily lead a comfortable life in the future. When the condition is identified in the early stages, it becomes easy to treat it with proper medication. In some cases, even the condition will progress at a very slow pace and it becomes easy to manage the symptoms in this situation. However, when the condition is progressing very rapidly, you need to be extra careful and get emergency medical treatment to avoid any complication in future. Remember that when the condition is not properly treated at the advanced stage, it can lead to problems with vision in future. In extreme cases, getting a transplant surgery for the corneal region will be the best choice to treat the condition.

Last updated on : 14-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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