What Are the Warning Signs of Keratoconus and How Can It Be Treated?

Keratoconus is an eye disorder that alters the shape of your cornea and causes varying degrees of blurred vision and light sensitivity. Fortunately, there are many treatments available that help control the visual issues associated with keratoconus.

The board-certified ophthalmologists at University Ophthalmology in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, are highly regarded for their skill in treating eye disorders such as keratoconus. Find out what these valued specialists have to say about the warning signs and treatments available for keratoconus.

Understanding keratoconus

Keratoconus affects the shape and function of your cornea, which is the clear portion of your eye that sits in front of the iris, pupil, and lens. Its transparency allows light to pass through the pupil to the lens, which directs it at the light-sensitive tissue (retina) at the back of your eye. Your brain receives the light signals from the optic nerve located behind the retina and transforms them into the images you see.

Your cornea is normally shaped like a dome and bends the light entering your eye in a way that helps sharpen the focus and detail of visual images. Keratoconus causes the cornea to thin and bulge outward into a cone-like shape. It normally affects both eyes but can be worse in one.

The altered shape of the cornea results in blurred vision that worsens as the condition advances. Keratoconus typically progresses slowly but can also cause corneal scarring that leads to vision loss.

Symptoms of keratoconus

Keratoconus typically begins between the ages of 10 and 25 and can progress slowly over a decade or longer. Symptoms may include:

Although symptoms are usually gradual in onset, keratoconus can cause sudden worsening or clouding of your vision, which may indicate corneal scarring.

Treating keratoconus

Depending on its progression, treatment for keratoconus often varies over time and focuses on protecting visual acuity and preventing further loss. It cannot reverse the damage done by the disorder.

Mild to moderate keratoconus often responds well to correction with eyeglasses or contact lenses, but prescriptions often change as the cornea becomes more distorted.

Soft contact lenses may be effective initially, but these are often switched for more rigid lenses (hard or gas permeable) as keratoconus progresses. Other types of contact lenses your University Ophthalmology provider may recommend include:

Your eye care specialist may also recommend corneal cross-linking, which is a nonsurgical therapy that strengthens the cornea with riboflavin and ultraviolet light. This therapy won’t return your cornea to its normal shape, but can slow or even halt the progression of keratoconus.

Surgical options include implants used to help reshape the cornea, as well as corneal transplant for severe keratoconus.

For the most effective treatment available for keratoconus, schedule a visit at University Ophthalmology today. Call the office or request an appointment online.

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