Keratoconus is a medical condition related to the eye. This eye disease is progressive and affects the cornea over time. The cornea is the part of the eye which is clear and forms an outer lens. This disease causes the cornea to thin and bulge, developing into a cone-like shape. When the cornea obtains this cone-like shape, light is not properly reflected as it enters the eye. Instead of absorbing the light the cornea then deflects the light which in turn leads to distorted vision.
What causes Keratoconus?
Keratoconus usually begins when a person is in their teens or early 20’s. In some cases, it begins in childhood, and less often it occurs in people over the age of 30. It can affect one or both eyes. There are small fibers of protein in the eye known as collagen. The collagen helps the cornea stay in place and maintain its shape. If the fibers are weakened, they can then fail to hold the cornea in its proper shape.
If there is a decrease in the necessary antioxidants that help protect the eye, the cornea cells become slightly defective and produce a by-product that is damaging to the eye. While the antioxidants would normally clear out this by-product if they are absent, they cannot.
Newer research suggests that the weakening of the corneal tissue may be due to an imbalance of enzymes in the cornea. The imbalance of enzymes causes the cornea to become more susceptible to the damaging by-products that are released and not cleared by the antioxidants.
Keratoconus has shown to be genetic. It can progress quicker in those who suffer from certain allergic conditions and other medical problems. If keratoconus runs in your family, you should have your child’s eyes checked by their Arlington optometrist while they are young.
The riskk for Keratoconus has also shown to be higher when paired with overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, as well as chronic eye irritation and excessive eye rubbing.
What are the symptoms of Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is most often caught by a doctor during an eye exam, which is why it is so important to regularly visit your eye doctor for checkups. The symptoms associated with Keratoconus include:
- A sudden change of vision in one eye
- Distortion of objects, close or far
- Double vision when looking with one eye
- Halos appearing around bright lights
- Streaking lights
- Seeing double or triple ghost images
- Blurry vision
How is Keratoconus treated?
Keratoconus treatment is generally initiated with proper eyeglasses or contact lenses. In some cases, rigid gas permeable contact lenses are recommended. If the case is mild, vision can be addressed via new eyeglasses.
In order to prevent the condition from worsening, there is a treatment called cornea collagen crosslinking. This procedure is completed in order to help strengthen the corneal tissue. There are implants that can be placed underneath the cornea, called intacs, that can help reduce further deformity of the cornea’s shape.
The most important thing you can do if you are at risk to have Keratoconus, or if it runs in your family, is to visit your optometrist regularly. This is very important to ensure that your doctor is able to catch the disease early on and treat it before it progresses and leads to irreversible damage.
If you are looking for a trusted eye doctor in Arlington, we can help. Here at First Eye Care, our team of vision experts prioritizes our patients and their health first. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us today.