Describing Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory degenerative eye disease. Keratoconus causes damage to the collagen fibers in the cornea causing them to grow weak. When it reaches a weak enough point in the fiber it bulges up like that of a hernia. Keratoconus causes irregular astigmatism, steeping of the cornea, and vision loss in the cornea. This significantly affects the patient’s daily life. Giving them grief when driving, reading and often completing day to day activities.

Vision loss can be mild to severe in one or both eyes. Keratoconus is diagnosed in 54.5 people out of every 100,000 in the general population. However the concentration of diagnosed patients being evaluated for Lasik is much higher, because people with keratoconus often seek Lasik to correct their poor vision. Lasik surgery is not an efficient treatment for those with Keratoconus due to its underlying risks for complications and high incidences of causing a rapid progression of the condition necessitating more surgery even possibly the need for a cornea transplant.

Many vision correction surgeons use corneal topography to map the eyes before treatment. This gives them a better view of the corneas of each patient. They use the mapping of both eyes to compare the changes and differences. The patients must be mapped in both eyes because is useful to detect and stage keratoconus this way. Over 90% of patients with keratoconus are affected in both eyes and over 6% are affected in one eye only. Keratoconus often strikes patients in one eye first and spreads to the other. However by the time the patient is diagnosed often the Keratoconus have affected both eyes.

If patients are not properly diagnosed before Lasik they can develop Lasik-induced Keratoconus or Keratoectasia. There are many symptoms of Keratoconus and proper evaluation of eyes regularly is best to catch Keratoconus or other vision problems early.

Below is a list of symptoms of keratoconus:

Glare and/or light sensitivity

Frequent prescription changes

progressive nearsightedness

irregular astigmatism

High amounts of Astigmatism

inferior steeping on corneal color mapping (topography)-red spots on mapping

It is wise to check with your eye doctor if you feel you have more serious case. Additionally finding someone who is familiar with early signs of Keratoconus is also wise as some doctors may not be familiar with them. Taking care of your eyes and vision is always a wise decision. Educating yourself can help you rule out issues in the future. Always consult your eye doctor if there are changes in your vision.

For more information about keratoconus visit the American Keratoconus Association

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