WHAT IS IT?
Keratoconus is a progressive condition, whereby the cornea at the front of the eye (the clear dome shaped window) becomes progressively thinner and more cone shaped causing significant distortion of a person’s vision.
WHO GETS IT?
Keratoconus affects people of all races and both sexes. Typically keratoconus develops during the teenage years and progresses through the 20s. It rarely presents after 30 years of age. Often there is a family history of the disease. In most cases both eyes are affected although one eye is typically worse than the other.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Good question and one we don’t actually know the answer to yet. However we do know that there is a strong link to allergies and eczema as well as eye rubbing.
Keratoconus Treatment. What can we do about it?
If you think you might have keratoconus you need to see one of our optometrists who will do a corneal topography to determine whether the cornea shows any abnormal steepening. If keratoconus or another corneal disorder is detected there will be a discussion about all the options available to you.
CORNEAL COLLAGEN CROSS-LINKING
If progressive corneal thinning is identified then referral to the public or private health system will be arranged by your optometrist. The procedure of cross-linking the cornea prevents further progression of the condition in the majority of cases.
CONTACT LENS FITTING
In the early stages or mild cases of keratoconus, glasses or soft contact lenses may provide adequate vision. If the condition progresses specially designed contact lenses, of soft or rigid materials will be customized for the shape of the eye to correct the vision. The process of fitting a keratoconic eye is highly specialised, fiddly and can take several months to ensure a safe, comfortable, and optically clear outcome. In most cases the end result is a success providing clear vision for driving, work and study.
Because optometry is a user pays health service in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health provides a contact lens subsidy to assist in the payment of the contact lenses and the optometrist’s expertise.
SURGICAL OPTIONS (INTACS/KERRARINGS)
Intacs or Kerrarings are small semi-circular plastic rings that are inserted into the cornea. They stretch the cone in an attempt to flatten and reduce optical distortion. Results are variable and contact lenses and glasses may still be required following, however the improvement in uncorrected vision may be of some convenience.
In the most progressive of cases a corneal transplant may be required. This is necessary when contact lens fitting fails to provided adequate vision or there is scarring preventing good vision. Only about 10% of cases progress to this stage in the absence of cross-linking. Typically customised contact lenses are required following corneal transplants.
If you think you may have any symptoms of Keratoconus or are concerned about the condition of your eyes or eyesight, please contact us today to make an appointment for an eye examination.