Your cornea is the clear, dome-shaped window at the front of your eye. It focuses light into your eye. Keratoconus is when the cornea thins out and bulges like a cone. Changing the shape of the cornea brings light rays out of focus. As a result, your vision is blurry and distorted, making daily tasks like reading or driving difficult.
Keratoconus can be diagnosed through a routine eye exam. An ophthalmologist at Eye Care Associates will examine your cornea, and may measure its curve. This helps show if there is a change in its shape. Your ophthalmologist may also map your cornea’s surface using a special computer. This detailed image shows the condition of the cornea’s surface.
Keratoconus often affects both eyes, and can lead to very different vision between the two eyes. Symptoms can differ in each eye, and they can change over time.
In the early stage, keratoconus symptoms can include:
- Mild blurring of vision
- Slightly distorted vision, where straight lines look bent or wavy
- Increased sensitivity to light and glare
- Eye redness or swelling
Keratoconus usually takes years to go from early to late stage. For some people, though, keratoconus can get worse quickly. The cornea can swell suddenly and start to scar. When the cornea has scar tissue, it loses its smoothness and becomes less clear. As a result, vision grows even more distorted and blurry.
In later stages, keratoconus symptoms often include:
- More blurry and distorted vision.
- Increased nearsightedness or astigmatism (when your eye cannot focus as well as it should). As a result, you may need new eyeglass prescriptions often.
- Not being able to wear contact lenses. They may no longer fit properly and they are uncomfortable.
Keratoconus treatment depends on your symptoms. When your symptoms are mild, your vision can be corrected with eyeglasses. Later you may need to wear special hard contact lenses to help keep vision in proper focus.
Here are other ways that our ophthalmologists might treat keratoconus:
- Intacs. This is a small curved device that one of our ophthalmologists at Eye Care Associates surgically puts in your cornea. Intacs help flatten the curve of your cornea to improve vision.
- Collagen cross-linking. Our ophthalmologist would use a special UV light and eye drops to strengthen the cornea. Doing this helps to flatten or stiffen your cornea, keeping it from bulging further.
- Corneal transplant. When symptoms are severe, our ophthalmologist may suggest a corneal transplant. An ophthalmologist could replace all or part of your diseased cornea with healthy donor cornea tissue.