Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory eye condition in which the normally round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins causing a cone-like bulge to develop. This results in significant visual impairment. The cornea is the clear window of the eye and is responsible for refracting (bending) most of the light coming into the eye. This distortion has been compared to viewing a street sign through your car windshield during a driving rainstorm. Therefore, abnormalities of the cornea severely affect the way we see the world making simple tasks like driving, watching TV, or reading a book difficult.

In its earliest stages, keratoconus causes slight blurring and distortion of vision and increased sensitivity to glare and light. These symptoms usually first appear in the late teens and early twenties, and it has been estimated that the incidence of keratoconus is 1 in 2000. It is found in all parts of the United States and the rest of the world. It has no known significant geographic, cultural or social pattern. Keratoconus may progress for 10-20 years and then slow in its progression. Each eye may be affected differently.

Eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may be used to correct the mild nearsightedness and astigmatism that is caused in the early stages of keratoconus. As the disorder progresses and the cornea continues to thin and change shape, rigid gas permeable contact lenses can be prescribed to correct vision more adequately. The contact lenses must be carefully fitted, and frequent checkups and lens changes may be needed to achieve and maintain good vision.

In severe cases, a corneal transplant may be needed due to scarring, extreme thinning or contact lens intolerance. This is a surgical procedure that replaces the keratoconus cornea with healthy donor tissue.

For more information about keratoconus, visit the National Keratoconus Foundation's website.




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