Understanding Keratoconus: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What Is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that affects the cornea, the clear dome-shaped surface at the front of the eye. It causes the cornea to thin and potentially bulge into an irregular shape, leading to distorted vision and other visual abnormalities.  Once identified it is important to stabilise the condition as soon as possible to limit affects. Our specialist corneal Ophthalmologists at Vision Care Clinic are experts at treating Keratoconus.  Here we will explore the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options for keratoconus.

What Causes Keratoconus?

Keratoconus affects around 55 in 100,000 and the precise cause of keratoconus is still not fully understood. However, there are several factors that have been associated with its development. One of the primary contributing factors is believed to be genetic predisposition. Individuals with a family history of keratoconus are at a higher risk of developing the condition. Additionally, certain medical conditions such as asthma, allergies, and eczema have been linked to keratoconus. Eye rubbing and excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds may also play a role in its development. Researchers are continuously studying these factors to gain further insights into the root causes of keratoconus.

What Are The Symptoms of Keratoconus?

The symptoms of keratoconus can vary from person to person and tend to manifest during the teenage years or early twenties. In the early stages, individuals may experience mild visual disturbances, such as blurred or distorted vision, increased sensitivity to light (photophobia), and frequent changes in their eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions. As the condition progresses, the symptoms may worsen, leading to severe distortion, ghosting or multiple images, and difficulties with night vision. Some individuals may also develop corneal swelling, leading to acute pain and discomfort. Regular eye examinations are crucial in detecting keratoconus early on, as prompt intervention can help manage the condition effectively.

How Is Keratoconus Treated?

While keratoconus may not be entirely curable, we offer two areas of treatment at Vision Care Clinic.  Firstly, to stabilise the cornea and halt the progression of keratoconus but also the opportunity to treat the affects, that keratoconus has already had on the cornea which help improve vision and clarity. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the specific needs of the individual:

Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking (CXL)

Corneal collagen cross-linking is a proven, minimally invasive procedure that aims to strengthen the cornea and halt the progression of keratoconus. During the procedure, specialist riboflavin eye drops are applied to the cornea for several minutes, which is then exposed to pulsed UV light. This process stimulates the production of collagen fibers, strengthening the cornea and stabilising its shape. Corneal collagen cross-linking can be an effective treatment option for individuals with progressive keratoconus.

Advanced Customised Laser Treatment

Improved vision for patients with keratoconus is now possible using advanced diagnostics and laser technology.  Vision Care Clinic use highly detailed scanning equipment to map a patient’s cornea and generate a customised laser treatment to repair and regularise the affected cornea.  These changes are then stabilised, using corneal collagen cross linking (see above).  For patients this means improved quality of vision and the possibility of reduced dependence on glasses or contact lenses.

Advanced Surgical Interventions

In more advanced cases of keratoconus, surgical interventions may be required.  Plastic intra- stromal rings have previously been used to stabilise and regularise affected corneas; however, the latest procedure at Vision Care Clinic is called CAIRS, corneal allogenic intrastromal ring segments, which uses donor corneal tissue to flatten the cornea for better tissue integration.  In the most advanced cases with significant corneal damage and visual impairment, our specialists can perform a corneal transplant, which involves replacing the damaged cornea with a healthy donor cornea.

Keratoconus at Vision Care Clinic

Vision Care Clinic offers a unique approach to Keratoconus. As a degenerative vision impairment, treatments for keratoconus often focus on halting the progression of the eye condition. However, Vision Care Clinic has the ability to improve vision in keratoconus patients while simultaneously preventing its progression. With the right intervention and ongoing care from our dedicated ophthalmologists, individuals with keratoconus can maintain good visual acuity and quality of life.

If you have keratoconus and would like to improve your vision and halt the progression of the eye condition, contact our keratoconus specialists at Vision Care Clinic in Bristol on 0117 905 7722.  Book your keratoconus consultation today.

Published 30th January 2024
by Helen Wood
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Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that affects the cornea, the clear dome-shaped surface at the front of the eye. Vision Care Clinic has the ability to improve vision in keratoconus patients while simultaneously preventing its progression.

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