Diagnosing and Treating Keratoconus

Did you know that one in 2,000 people in the United States is affected by keratoconus? It’s the most common corneal dystrophy among Americans, according to the National Eye Institute. It’s a condition that occurs when your cornea progressively thins out and bulges in a cone shape. Keratoconus doesn’t lead to total blindness, but it can cause significant vision impairment if not treated.


How Is It Diagnosed?


Keratoconus is often diagnosed in teens and young adults. Common symptoms include itchy eyes, double vision, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light. Refractive errors like astigmatism are also indicators that you may have keratoconus. As this ocular condition worsens, it may lead to eye pain and other severe vision problems. To diagnose keratoconus, eye doctors usually conduct several tests, including:


  • Comprehensive Eye Examination: A complete eye exam is the first step in determining whether you have keratoconus. Your doctor will start by reviewing your medical and health history. Then, they will conduct visual acuity and refraction tests, among others.


  • Slit Lamp Examination: This will allow your doctor to get a closer look at the different structures of your eye. In a slit lamp exam, your doctor will examine your sclera, cornea, lens, retina, and optic nerve.


  • Topography and Tomography: These present valuable information on the curvature of your cornea. Topographic maps reveal irregular astigmatism with steepening. Additional parameters are provided by corneal tomography.


Your doctor may also use other techniques to confirm the diagnosis. These are ocular response analyzer and optical coherence tomography.


How Is It Treated?


Treatment for keratoconus will depend on the symptoms you have. For mild cases, wearing a pair of eyeglasses can help with vision correction. Over time, though, you may be prescribed special contact lenses to alter the shape of your cornea. This will help keep your vision in proper focus. Your doctor may also recommend other treatment options, such as:


  • Intacs: These are micro-thin, crescent-shaped intracorneal ring inserts used to improve mild cases of nearsightedness. These prescription devices are made of plastic polymers, like the material used in contact lenses. They’re placed onto the cornea to flatten the cone-shaped bulge, thus supporting corneal shape and improving your vision.


  • Collagen Cross-Linking (CXL): You can prevent the progression of your keratoconus with CXL. This ground-breaking procedure involves adding cross-links or support beams to your cornea. By stabilizing and strengthening your cornea, you halt the thinning process. This, in turn, prevents further vision impairment.


  • Corneal Transplant: Your doctor may recommend corneal transplant surgery once your cornea has become dangerously thin. It may also be an option if contact lenses no longer provide you with sufficient visual acuity due to corneal steepening or scarring. During the operation, your doctor will replace the abnormally shaped cornea with a healthy donor cornea tissue.


Keratoconus is a rare but complicated eye condition with many different treatment options. We, at the Eye Care Associates in San Bernardino, can help guide you through the process. Call our office today in San Bernardino, California, at (909) 316-2100 to schedule your consultation.

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