Health & Fitness

What is keratoconus?

The thinning and protruding of the transparent layer of cornea covering the front of the eyes is called keratoconus. With conning of the cornea, there is blurring of vision and consistent change in the vision. People between the ages of 10 and 25 years often come to best Eye Specialist in Lahore with this disease. Keratoconus progresses silently for years and attains a cone shape—causing bulging of the cornea. Read on to know more about keratoconus, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment:

What is keratoconus?

Irregularities in the thickness of cornea with its thinning, and weakening of the collagen component is what constitutes keratoconus. With keratoconus, the cornea—or the clear refractive medium of the eye, takes a cone shape instead of the normal dome-shape. The tiny fibers of collagen in the cornea normally help to keep it in place. However, when this collagen weakens, it cannot maintain its shape and instead bulges outward. Production of too many oxidative stressors can weaken the collagen fibers and cause keratoconus.

What are the symptoms of keratoconus?

The symptoms of keratoconus include:

  • Double vision especially when looking with one eye
  • Streaks of light
  • Halos
  • Blurry appearance of near and far objects
  • Difficulty in driving
  • Triple ghost images
  • Frequent change in prescription of eyeglasses
  • Glare
  • Different visions between two eyes
  • Inability to tolerate contact lenses

What are the causes of keratoconus?

The exact cause of keratoconus is not understood. However, scientists consider the following factors are linked to keratoconus. These include:

  • Positive family history: there are increased chances of getting keratoconus if this disorder runs in the family. As with so many other disorders, genetics play an important causative role. If someone has keratoconus, they should get their children tested starting around age 10.
  • Age: keratoconus is more common in teenage years. However, adults in their 30s and 40s can also get this disorder, although its less likely.  
  • Inflammation: inflammatory disorders like asthma, allergies and atopic eyes can increase the breakdown of the corneal tissue, allowing it to bulge and be cone-shaped.
  • Rubbing of eyes: over time, rubbing of eyes can cause corneal tissue to break down and bulge with keratoconus. In people already diagnosed with keratoconus, rubbing can cause faster progression of disease.  
  • Presence of underlying systemic disorders: recent studies have found link between systemic disorders like osteogenesis imperfecta, retinitis pigmentosa, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Down syndrome.
  • Ethnicity: other studies have found higher prevalence of keratoconus in people belonging to Latino and Black ethnicities. In comparison, Caucasians are 50 percent less likely to get keratoconus.

How is keratoconus diagnosed?

The diagnosis of keratoconus is made through routine examination of the eye. Slit lamp examination can reveal an excessively curved cornea. Other signs of keratoconus can include bulging or coning of the lower eyelid when the patient is asked to look down, this is called Munson’s sign.

What are the complications of keratoconus?

The complications of keratoconus include swelling of cornea which can suddenly reduce vision and be severe enough to scar cornea. One reason of this scarring is the sudden breakdown of the inner lining of cornea, allowing fluid to enter the remaining layers; this is called hydrops. While it is a self-limiting condition, it can result in permanent corneal scar which can affect your vision. Normally, the cornea scars at the region of the maximum cone. A scarred cornea may require corneal transplant for improvement.

What are the treatment options? 

The treatment of keratoconus is based on the severity of disease, and the symptoms in the patient. For mild symptoms, the treatment is often prescription of eyeglasses alone. If the disease progresses, hard contact lenses can be prescribed by the healthcare provider.

Other treatment options offered by Eye Specialist in Islamabad include:

  • Collagen cross-linking: special ultraviolet radiation and eye drops are used to strengthen the cornea and the collagen fibrils. This treatment helps to stiffen the cornea so that it stops bulging. Collagen cross-linking can halt the progression of disease and prevent it from coning more.
  • Intacs: this is a small device, surgically put in the cornea that helps to flatten the curvature of cornea.
  • Corneal transplant: for very severe disease, the cornea is replaced with healthy tissue.

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