Keratoconus is an eye disease that affects the structure of the cornea. As the cornea thins and gradually bulges outward, it can cause blurred vision and light sensitivity. Keratoconus occurs in approximately one in 2,000 individuals, with symptoms typically starting during puberty and progressing into the mid-30s.
Although keratoconus has been studied for decades, researchers know little about it. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, though it’s believed that some people are born with the predisposition at birth. Because people with keratoconus have a loss of collagen in the cornea, it’s possible that there’s an imbalance between the production and destruction of the corneal tissue by the corneal cells.
Signs and Symptoms of Keratoconus
The signs and symptoms of keratoconus may change as the disease progresses. At first, people with keratoconus usually start with glasses to treat their astigmatism and nearsightedness. As the disease progresses and the glasses no longer work, patients generally need to wear a contact lens.
Then, as the disease progresses further, patients can be treated with corneal collagen cross-linking. This procedure involves applying a vitamin B solution to the eye and then activating it for 30 minutes or so. The solution causes new bonds to form, as well as helps preserve some of the corena’s strength and shape.
While corneal collagen cross-linking will not make the cornea completely normal, it will prevent the vision from getting worse. Below are the signs and symptoms to watch for:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Difficulty driving at night
- Sudden worsening or clouding vision
- Increased sensitivity to bright light and glare
- Need for frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
When to See an Eye Doctor
If your eyesight is worsening at a rapid rate, schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist right away. It could be astigmatism, but your doctor will also check for keratoconus. To diagnose the condition, your eye doctor will review your medical and family history and conduct an eye exam.
Your treatment will depend on the severity of the condition and how quickly it’s progressing. The goals of treatment are to slow the progression of the disease and improve your vision. At this time, there is no known prevention or cure for keratoconus. But this does not mean you can’t live a full life with the condition. With the right eye specialist, you can treat keratoconus and preserve your eyesight.