The cornea, which is the clear outer lens of the eye, makes it possible for the human eye to see. Usually, the cornea has a dome shape, more like a ball. But sometimes, the cornea bulges outward and downward like a cone. This condition is known as Keratoconus. This happens due to a myriad of reasons, where, unfortunately, the structure of the cornea is just not strong enough to hold the round shape in place.
A question that one would naturally ponder over is to what causes Keratoconus? Let us understand a bit about the structure of the eye, wherein tiny fibres of protein, called collagen, help hold the cornea in place and keep it from bulging. Whenever these fibres become weak, they can no longer hold the shape, and the cornea becomes progressively more and more cone-shaped.
A decrease in the protective antioxidants in the cornea causes Keratoconus. The cornea cells produce damaging by-products. Usually, the antioxidants help get rid of them and protect the collagen fibres. If antioxidant levels are low, the collagen starts to weaken, and as a result, the cornea bulges out.
Keratoconus is usually not genetic. However, it can be passed on from one generation to another. In people with some medical issues, the condition progresses more rapidly, including in certain allergic conditions. Further, people who indulge in chronic eye rubbing are more at risk So, it is essential to ensure that children do not rub them too often.
Keratoconus usually starts in the teenage years. It can, however, begin in childhood. It can even start at the age of 30. It is also possible that it can occur in people aged 40 and older, but that is a less common situation.
The change in the shape of the cornea can happen quickly or may occur over several years and can result in symptoms such as blurred vision, glare, and the appearance of halos at night. These changes can stop at any time if one is lucky, or they can continue for decades. As of now, it is difficult to predict how it progresses with time. In most people suffering from Keratoconus, both the eyes eventually end up getting affected, although not always to the same extent. It usually develops in one eye first and then spreads to the other.
In case of severe Keratoconus, the stretched collagen fibres can lead to severe scarring. If the back of the cornea ends up getting torn, it can swell, and it may take several days or months for the swelling to go away. This often causes a huge corneal scar.
Can Keratoconus Damage The Vision?
Changes to the cornea can make it impossible for the human eyes to focus without eyeglasses or contact lenses. Usually, a corneal transplant may be needed to restore vision if the condition is severe.
An important point to note here is that Laser vision correction surgery - LASIK - is dangerous for people with Keratoconus because it can further weaken the cornea and make vision worse. As per eye doctors, anyone with even a small degree of Keratoconus should not choose to have LASIK surgery.
How Is Keratoconus Diagnosed?
An eye specialist may notice symptoms during an eye exam. The symptoms include:
- A sudden change of vision in just one eye
- Double vision when looking with only one eye
- Objects looking distorted
- Bright lights appearing like they have halos around them
- Double and even triple ghost images
- Difficulty while driving due to blurry vision, especially at night
To be sure that one has Keratoconus, the doctor will measure the shape of the cornea. There are several different ways in which this can be done. The most common is called 'corneal topography,' which can analyse in seconds. Children having a family history of Keratoconus should have a corneal topography done every year from the age of 10 to monitor the cornea. Even if in a year the child's corneal topography is typical, it's still important to have the test performed yearly. There may be subtle changes over time. With annual tests, the doctor can compare results to identify those changes if they're present.
What We Offer for Keratoconus
Centre for Sight offers a full spectrum of Keratoconus treatment modalities that range from corneal collagen crosslinking with riboflavin, intrastromal ring segments, Implantable Collamer Lenses (ICL) to corneal transplant.
We are well equipped with advanced corneal evaluation devices like Corneal topography systems (Pentacam & Orbscan), Corvis to assess corneal biomechanics & strength, which help in the early detection and monitoring of the disease and can help in timely treatment of the eye ailment.
For further information on this, reach our experts and enjoy a clear vision.
Article: Frequent blurred vision? Might be the defining symptoms of Keratoconus.
Author: CFS Editorial Team | Nov 10 2020 | UPDATED 01:10 IST
*The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Centre for Sight.