Keratoconus is when the cornea thins out and bulges like a cone. Changing the shape of the cornea brings light rays out of focus. As a result, your vision is blurry and distorted, making daily tasks like reading or driving difficult.

Causes of Keratoconus

Doctors do not know for sure why people have keratoconus. In some cases, it appears to be genetic. About 1 out of 10 people with keratoconus is also associated with eye allergies and excessive eye rubbing.

Keratoconus often starts when people are in their late teens to early 20s. The vision symptoms slowly get worse over a period of 10 to 20 years.

Symptoms of a Keratoconus

  • Mild blurring of vision
  • Slightly distorted vision, where straight lines look bent or wavy
  • Increased sensitivity to light and glare
  • Eye redness or swelling
  • Increased nearsightedness or astigmatism
  • Not being able to wear contact lenses

Diagnosis of a Keratoconus

Keratoconus can be diagnosed through a routine eye exam. Your ophthalmologist will examine your cornea and may measure its curve. Your ophthalmologist may also map your cornea’s surface using a special computer which provides an image that shows the condition of the cornea’s surface.

Treatment of Keratoconus

The treatment depends on the symptoms. When the symptoms are mild, vision can be corrected with eyeglasses. Other treatments are:

  • Intacs: A small, curved device that your ophthalmologist surgically puts in your cornea. Intacs help flatten the curve of your cornea to improve vision.
  • Collagen cross-linking: Your ophthalmologist uses a special UV light and eye drops to strengthen the cornea. This helps to flatten or stiffen your cornea, keeping it from bulging further.
  • Corneal transplant: When symptoms are severe, a corneal transplant might be recommended. During this surgical procedure, part or all your diseased cornea is replaced with healthy donor cornea tissue.

With Keratoconus, it is important to see your ophthalmologist regularly to check for eye and vision changes.

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