Derived from the Greek words 'kerato', meaning cornea, and 'konos', meaning cone, Keratoconus describes a condition where the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye, thins and bulges into a cone-like shape. This conical protrusion deflects light entering the eye on its way to the light-sensitive retina, causing distorted vision.
Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease, typically affecting both eyes. The progression is usually slow and can halt at any stage from mild to severe. While it's more prevalent in teenagers and young adults, it can affect anyone. The symptoms often start to appear in the late teens and early twenties.
The reality is, living with keratoconus can be challenging, affecting every aspect of life, from professional to personal. As an optometrist, I feel compelled to raise awareness about this condition, its causes and symptoms, and the available treatments, with a particular focus on the benefits of using scleral lenses for keratoconus treatment.
The exact cause of keratoconus remains unknown. However, experts believe that a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors plays a role in its development. Frequent rubbing of the eyes and conditions like allergies or chronic eye inflammation may contribute to the progression of this disease.
The symptoms of keratoconus vary based on the stage of the condition. Early symptoms include slight blurring and distortion of vision and increased sensitivity to light and glare. As the condition progresses, the cornea bulges and scars, leading to more noticeable vision problems. Regular changes in prescription glasses or contacts may also indicate keratoconus.
It's essential to keep in mind that these symptoms can also be indicative of other eye problems. Therefore, a comprehensive eye exam by a professional is crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
When it comes to keratoconus treatment, the goal is to improve vision and halt disease progression. In the initial stages, eyeglasses or soft contact lenses can help. As the condition progresses, rigid gas permeable contact lenses or piggyback lenses may be required to correct vision more effectively.
For more advanced cases, there are several surgical options, such as corneal crosslinking, which strengthens the corneal tissue to stop it from bulging, or a corneal transplant, replacing the diseased cornea with a healthy donor cornea.
However, one effective non-surgical option that has garnered significant attention is the use of scleral lenses. These lenses have proven to be a valuable tool in managing moderate to severe keratoconus.
Scleral lenses are large-diameter gas permeable contact lenses that rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye, and create a tear-filled vault over the cornea. This design allows scleral lenses to replace the irregular cornea with a perfectly smooth optical surface, improving vision quality.
Unlike regular contact lenses, scleral lenses are custom-made for each individual’s unique eye shape and size. They provide a high level of comfort as they don't come into contact with the cornea, reducing the risk of corneal irritation.
Moreover, scleral lenses can carry a reservoir of fluid that continuously bathes the eye, providing relief for those with dry or sensitive eyes, often associated with keratoconus.
Scleral lenses have several advantages when it comes to keratoconus treatment. Firstly, they offer superior visual acuity by masking the corneal irregularities caused by keratoconus. This can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with this condition.
Secondly, scleral lenses provide greater stability on the eye as they are less likely to dislodge due to their larger diameter. This makes them an excellent choice for individuals with an active lifestyle.
Lastly, they offer enhanced comfort compared to other contact lenses. This is a critical aspect, as comfort is often a primary concern for individuals with keratoconus, who may find it difficult to tolerate other types of lenses.
For more on treating keratoconus with scleral lenses, contact Inland Family Optometry in Chino or Rancho Cucamonga, California by calling (909) 345-9809 or (909) 345-6100 to schedule an appointment today.