In honor of World Keratoconus Day, we’re shedding light on a lesser-known eye condition that goes by the name of keratoconus. Whether you’re a glasses veteran or a contact lens newbie, understanding keratoconus can be a game-changer in maintaining your eye health. So, grab a comfy seat, and let’s dive into the world of keratoconus.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that affects the cornea – the clear, front part of your eye. Normally, the cornea has a round shape, like a basketball. However, in individuals with keratoconus, the cornea begins to thin and bulge into a cone-like shape, resembling a soccer ball. This irregularity can result in distorted vision, increased sensitivity to light, and difficulty wearing standard corrective lenses.

Who Gets Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is estimated to affect 1 in 2,000 individuals in the general population. While this condition typically presents during adolescence or early adulthood, keratoconus is a bit of an equal opportunity eye condition, affecting people of all ages and ethnicities. While the exact cause is still a bit of a mystery, there’s evidence to suggest that genetics, environmental factors, and certain eye rubbing habits may contribute to its development. If you find yourself squinting more than usual or experiencing sudden changes in your vision, it might be worth scheduling a comprehensive eye exam to rule out keratoconus.

Signs and Symptoms.

Wondering if you might be dealing with keratoconus? Keep an eye out for these common signs:

  1. Blurred or Distorted Vision: If your vision seems to be playing tricks on you, especially at night, it could be a sign of keratoconus.
  2. Frequent Changes in Prescription: Needing new prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses more often than usual? This might be another clue.
  3. Increased Sensitivity to Light: If you find yourself squinting in bright lights or experiencing discomfort, it’s time to book an appointment with your Nampa and Kuna optometrists.
  4. Halos and Ghosting: Seeing halos around lights or experiencing double vision can also be indicators of keratoconus.

Diagnosis and Treatment.

If you suspect keratoconus, don’t fret. The skilled optometrists at Eyecare Associates of Nampa can diagnose it through a comprehensive eye exam, which may include the following key components:

  1. Corneal Mapping: Your optometrist will use corneal topography to create a detailed map of the corneal surface, revealing any irregularities consistent with keratoconus.
  2. Slit-Lamp Examination: This specialized microscope helps visualize the cornea’s structure and thickness.
  3. Vision Testing: Your optometrist will assess your vision, which is often distorted in the presence of keratoconus.
  4. Pachymetry: This test measures the thickness of your cornea.

Once diagnosed, there are various treatment options available. In the early stages, eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may be sufficient to correct vision. However, as the condition progresses, rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses may be recommended to provide better visual acuity.

In more advanced cases, when contact lenses no longer provide adequate vision correction, your Nampa optometrists may discuss the following surgical options:

  1. Corneal Cross-linking: A process that involves applying a special type of ultraviolet (UV) light to the cornea after it’s been treated with riboflavin, a type of vitamin B2. When the UV light interacts with the riboflavin, the “glue” that helps the corneal fibers bond together, it creates tiny cross-links or bridges between the collagen fibers in the cornea. This provides reinforcement, strength, and stability to the cornea to ultimately slow down or halt the progression of keratoconus, preventing further bulging and vision distortion.
  2. Intacs: A sort of architectural support for your cornea, Intacs are specialized inserts that are strategically placed within the layers of the cornea to reinforce its structure and help it return to a more natural, rounded shape.
  3. Corneal Transplant: Sometimes referred to as a corneal graft, a corneal transplant is a surgical procedure where a damaged or diseased cornea is replaced with a healthy donor cornea. 

The good news is that with early detection and proper management, many individuals with keratoconus can maintain functional vision.

Living with Keratoconus.

Managing keratoconus is a team effort between you and your eye care specialist. Regular eye exams in Nampa, open communication, and a willingness to adapt to new vision correction methods are key to living well with keratoconus. Embracing the support of friends and family is equally important. Explaining your condition to those close to you can foster understanding and create a network of support.

Final Thoughts.

In the grand tapestry of eye conditions, keratoconus might be a lesser-known thread, but it’s one worth unraveling. Understanding the signs, seeking professional guidance from your Nampa optometrists, and being proactive about your eye health can make all the difference. So, if you’re experiencing any vision changes or curious about the health of your corneas, schedule that eye exam at Eyecare Associates of Nampa and Kuna. Your eyes are the windows to the world; let’s make sure they stay crystal clear!