Keratoconus

SoCal Eye – Keratoconus Specialists in Long Beach

Keratoconus is a condition of the Cornea that can lead to blurry vision which in a mild form can be treated with eyeglasses but in more extreme cases requires eye surgery. Keratoconus can be detected in a comprehensive eye exam. SoCal Eye Ophthalmology have Cornea Specialists on staff in Long Beach, Huntington Beach and Garden Grove. All treatment begins with a Consultation. Schedule an Appointment today at LAKEWOOD (562) 531-2020  | LOS ALAMITOS (562) 598-7728  or send us an Online Consultation Request

What is Keratoconus?

The cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped surface of the eye that is largely responsible for the eye’s focusing power. Under normal circumstances, the cornea must remain clear and perfectly shaped for the correct transmission and focusing of light and images onto the retina. Keratoconus, often referred to as ‘KC’, is a non-inflammatory eye condition in which the typically round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins and weakens, causing the development of a cone-like bulge and optical irregularity of the cornea. This change in shape brings light rays out of focus and results in the vision becoming blurry and distorted, making daily tasks like reading or driving more difficult.

Keratoconus

Link: Living with Keratoconus

Link: Keratoconus from the National Keratoconus Foundation: 

Keratoconus Causes and Risk Factors:

 The exact cause of Keratoconus is unknown but certain risk factors have been identified:

Genetics/Family History:

About 1 out of 10 people with keratoconus have a parent who has it also. If you are a parent with Keratoconus it is advisable to get your children’s eyes checked for signs starting around age 10.

Age:

Keratoconus is often first detected in the teenage years and in almost all cases by the age of 30. It can also affect people 40 and older, but that’s less common.

Certain Disorders:

Studies have found a connection between keratoconus and systemic conditions such as Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta, and retinitis pigmentosa.

Inflammation:

Inflammation from things like allergies, asthma, or atopic eye disease can break down the tissue of the cornea.

Eye Rubbing:

Excessive eye rubbing over time can break down the cornea and can also accelerate the condition if it already exists.

Race:

Instances in the Black and Latino population are roughly 50% higher than in the Caucasian population.

Keratoconus Symptoms and Detection:

Keratoconus typically first appears in individuals who are in their late teens or early twenties, and may progress for 10-20 years, and then slow or stabilize. Each eye may be affected differently. People with keratoconus might experience:

  • Slight blurring of vision
  • Nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Frequent glasses or contact lens prescription changes
  • Reduced best corrected vision, even with glasses
  • Distortion of vision: straight lines look bent or wavy
  • Increased sensitivity to light and glare
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Halos forming around bright lights at night
  • Ghosting around images
  • Double vision when looking with one eye

In the early stages, symptoms may be quite mild. Nearsightedness or frequent changes to your glasses prescription may be the only symptoms, making treatment relatively easy. As the condition progresses, the distortions, halos and double vision become more pronounced making treatment more necessary but also more complex. As Keratoconus progresses, it can result in significant vision loss and may require a corneal transplant in severe cases.

Eye rubbing has been shown to cause progression of keratoconus, so it is important to avoid rubbing your eyes. If your eyes itch, burn or are often irritated, the eye doctors at SoCal Eye may be able to identify and treat the underlying cause of your ocular irritation.

Keratoconus Treatment:

Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking.

A surgical procedure performed by a Cornea Specialist that strengthens the cornea and prevents further progression of keratoconus. This procedure involves the application of Vitamin B (riboflavin) eye drop medicine in conjunction with a focused beam of UV light rays. This eliminates the bulging/distended shape that creates the vision issues and may help the cornea return to a more preferred flatter shape.   Corneal collagen cross-linking is the only FDA approved treatment that prevents further progression of keratoconus. Learn More

Other Therapeutic Options in Keratoconus:

 There are other treatments that can help reduce the symptoms in early keratoconus. These include:

  • Glasses: Glasses can correct regular astigmatism. In very early keratoconus glasses may be able to treat some of the astigmatism and restore vision. However, as keratoconus progresses the astigmatism becomes irregular and glasses will no longer be able to treat all of the astigmatism, limiting the vision one can achieve with glasses.
  • Soft Contact Lenses: Contact lens manufacturers have introduced custom soft contact lenses specially designed to correct mild-to-moderate keratoconus. They are generally larger in diameter than regular soft lenses in order to provide improved coverage and greater stability (KeraSoft lenses (Bausch + Lomb) / NovaKone lenses (Bausch + Lomb).
  • Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses: As the condition advances and glasses and soft contacts begin to lose efficacy, special rigid gas permeable contacts (hard contacts) can be used to help keep vision in proper focus. These lenses replace the irregular shape of the Keratoconus cornea with a smooth, uniform surface that improves refraction and improves vision.

As the symptoms extend beyond nearsightedness and vision distortions become more prevalent and severe, eye glasses and contacts may not be able to continue to treat the condition and your Ophthalmologist will begin to explore alternative treatments;

  • Intacs:  A small curved device that is surgically placed on the cornea to help flatten the curvature of the cornea and improve vision.
  • Corneal Transplant: When symptoms are severe a corneal transplant may be necessary where all or part of the diseased cornea is replaced with healthy cornea tissue from a donor.

SoCal Eye Consultation:

All treatment begins with a Consultation with a SoCal Eye Cornea Specialist or Cornea Surgeon in Long Beach. Schedule an Appointment today at LAKEWOOD (562) 531-2020  | LOS ALAMITOS (562) 598-7728  or send us an Online Consultation Request