Keratoconus

Managing Keratoconus & Thinning Corneas

Have you been diagnosed with Keratoconus? Complications associated with thin or thinning corneas can bring a certain amount of anxiety. As a clinic who has pioneered treatments for Keratoconus, we wanted to provide Keratoconus sufferers with answers to the most commonly asked questions and make you aware of all the treatment options, including the latest treatment, collagen cross-linking.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a thinning of the central part of the cornea which sits at the front of the eye. This thinning causes the cornea surface to bulge which then distorts vision. As the cornea gets thinner, this distortion increases, creating significant vision impairment. Keratoconus affects over 1 in 2000 Australians although it may be many more as Keratoconus is often not diagnosed.

Anatomy image showing Keratoconus

What causes Keratoconus?

Anatomically speaking, keratoconus is caused by a weakening of the collagen in your eye. This collagen keeps your cornea in a stable shape. These tiny fibres of collagen remain firm by maintaining a balance of naturally occurring antioxidants. If antioxidant levels become low, this can cause the collagen to weaken, resulting in the cornea bulging out.

Environmental factors such as habitual eye-rubbing and certain allergies can also cause Keratoconus to occur or accelerate.

Is Keratoconus genetic?

Keratoconus can run in families although it is not a genetic disorder. It is a good idea to have children checked for keratoconus annually from age 10 if there has been a family history of keratoconus.

What are the symptoms of Keratoconus?

Blurry vision is the core symptom of keratoconus. The bulge in the cornea creates a refractive error, meaning that light does not focus correctly on the retina at the back of the eye. With keratoconus, the decrease in vision quality can change rapidly. So, if you are needing to change your glasses or contact lens prescription often, it could be a potential sign.

How is Keratoconus diagnosed?

Diagnosis is most commonly obtained by taking a corneal topography. This is a simple snapshot or medical image of your cornea. This is taken by your Ophthalmologist and will highlight the occurrence or development of keratoconus.

What treatments exist for Keratoconus?

Treatments for keratoconus alter based on the severity of the condition. In order of severity, the following treatments could be applied:

  • Glasses - Early keratoconus can be corrected like any refractive vision error, by wearing prescription spectacles.
  • Contact Lenses - Special contact lenses known as Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses are a long-term, non-surgical solution for keratoconus.
  • Intracorneal Ring Segments (ICRS) – Also known as Intacs or Kerarings. These aid to prevent the cornea from bulging and are not as invasive as a full corneal transplant.
  • Collagen cross-linking (UVX) – This new surgery technique aims to stabilise and strengthen the collagen fibres inside the eye using a combination of Vitamin B2 drops and UVA light. Read more on Collagen Cross-linking
  • Corneal transplant – In severe cases, a cornel transplant may be required. This takes donor tissue to replace the impaired corneal surface. Read more on Corneal transplants

If you have noticed drastic changes in your vision or have in fact been diagnosed with keratoconus it is worth considering all your options. Collagen Cross-linking is a new treatment that our principle surgeon Dr John Males has pioneered in Australia. Envision Eye Centre is well placed to treat Keratoconus and to restore your vision quality.

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