Keratoconus is a type of eye disorder that mostly affects people from late childhood to early adulthood. This eye disorder affects 1 in 2000 people. So, what are the causes, effects, and the treatments available for this disorder? Read on.
What is Keratoconus?
Before elaborating further, let us first understand what this disorder is all about. Medically, Keratoconus refers to the thinning of the cornea of the eye. For the uninitiated, the cornea is like the window of the eye that focuses the light rays into your eyes, thus enabling the sensation of vision. The cornea is usually dome shaped, but when affected by Keratoconus, it bugles and forms a cone like projection in front of the eye.
What are the symptoms of Keratoconus?
Since the shape of the cornea changes drastically, the light rays are not able to focus in a right manner, as before. The out of focus rays thereby, lead to the following symptoms and signs:
- Blurred vision
- Distorted images and lack of depth perception
- Difficulty while reading or driving (due to progressive near sightedness)
- Early onset of irregular astigmatism
- Increase in glare and light sensitivity
- Frequent changes in eye glass power
If you suffer from the above symptoms, then it is high time that you get your eye checked by a medical officer.
What are the causes of Keratoconus?
Since Keratoconus is caused by the weakening of the corneal tissue, its causes are related to the reasons that may have caused this weakening in the first place. One of the probable reasons is imbalance of enzymes. This imbalance reduces the cornea’s property to fight against the damage caused due to oxidative compounds (free radicals) and hence, the weakening and the bulging. This can also occur due to genetic predisposition; hence members of the same family are more susceptible to this disorder. Another major cause is an overexposure to the sun’s UV rays. Minor reasons such as improper usage and fitting of contact lenses and chronic irritation of the eye can also cause Keratoconus.
What are the treatments for Keratoconus?
In the milder cases, Keratoconus can be corrected by using usual eye correction measures such as eyeglasses or contact lens. But in a progressed stage, other treatment methods have to be adopted. Some of these treatment methods are mentioned below:
- Corneal cross linking: This procedure is used to strengthen the corneal tissue so that the bulging of the cornea is prevented. It can be done using two methods: epithelium off and epithelium on. In the first one, riboflavin, a Vitamin B supplement, is introduced into the eye after removing the outer layer of cornea and then it is triggered with UV rays. In the second method, there is no removal of layers, so the penetration of riboflavin is much slower and also safer.
- Prosthetic lenses: An eye affected by Keratoconus is so oddly-shaped that normal contact lenses cannot be fitted onto them properly. So instead of this, custom-made advanced scleral lens is used. These lenses are also designed to act like a prosthetic shell.
- Intacs: Intacs are a means of applying corneal inserts through surgical method. Their application helps to reshape the cornea, thereby, correcting the focus of the vision. They also increase the visual acuity. They can also be removed or exchanged, and the surgical procedure takes only a few minutes.
- Corneal transplant: In extreme cases, a transplant has to be done. Such a situation arises when the patients cannot continue with just the contact lenses or the intacs.