Chan Eye Care, PLLC: Keratoconus
Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory eye condition in which the shape of the cornea becomes distorted.
A healthy cornea is a clear, curved dome. It focuses 85% of the light coming into the eye. In a keratoconus patient, the center of the cornea slowly thins, then bulges outward into a cone-like shape due to the normal pressure inside the eye. This affects how the cornea refracts light, resulting in significant visual impairment.
Causes & Symptoms
The exact cause of keratoconus is unknown, but it has been shown to follow some genetic lines and to happen more often in people with certain medical conditions. It has not been linked to any specific type of eye injury or disease.
Common symptoms of keratoconus include:
- Halos and ghosting in low-light conditions
- Distortion—but not blurring—in near and far objects (eventually leads to blurring in distant objects)
- Sudden change of vision in one eye
- Double vision with one eye
- Eye strain
- Eye irritation
- General eye pain and headaches
The onset of keratoconus usually happens during one’s teens, but it can also start in childhood or up to about age 30. Most people who have keratoconus eventually develop the condition in both eyes.
Effects on Vision
Keratoconus changes vision in two ways: irregular astigmatism from the slight waviness that develops in the cornea’s surface, and nearsightedness from the change in the way the cornea refracts light.
While the condition does not lead to blindness, it can make procedures like LASIK dangerous.
The following tests can be performed to properly diagnose keratoconus:
- Slit-lamp exam – checks for general diseases and abnormalities in the anterior portion of the eye, which includes the cornea
- Pachymetry – measures corneal thickness
- Keratometry – measures corneal curvature
- Corneal topography – makes a 3D “map” of the cornea
Your optometrist will also review your symptoms and check for stress lines, corneal thinning, and scarring at the apex of the corneal cone.
Like most eye conditions, the earliest stages of keratoconus are when it is easiest to treat and correct. Treatment may include:
- Eyeglasses – can only correct vision while symptoms are mild
- Contact lenses – rigid gas-permeable lenses are the primary option for correcting keratoconus vision
- Surgical options:
- Collagen crosslinking (CXL) – strengthens corneal tissue with riboflavin to stop the surface of the eye from bulging
- Intacs – uses micro-thin prescription inserts surgically placed into the cornea to help flatten its curve and correct vision
- Corneal transplant – may be necessary for advanced cases of keratoconus
Schedule an Appointment
Schedule an eye exam by calling (757) 430-8800 or use our contact form to send an appointment request. Chan Eye Care, PLLC is conveniently located at 1925 Landstown Centre Way, Suite 250. Our office is open Mondays to Saturdays.