Keratoconus is a progressive condition of the eye that causes the cornea (The clear front surface of the eye) to thin and distort in shape.
A normal cornea has a regular dome-like shape but keratoconus causes the thin central area to protrude outward. This protrusion to the front of the cornea causes it to take on a cone shape giving the condition its name. It is this cone shape that leads to the distortion to vision. Keratoconus can be treated in a variety of ways including glasses, crosslinking, corneal implants and in the worst cases may require corneal grafts.
The majority of people discover they are affected by keratoconus in mid teens through to early twenties but there are cases reported in people aged 40 or 50. Discovery of keratoconus usually occurs once the condition has progressed significantly enough to have an effect on vision but advances in testing methods have increased rates of early discovery.
It has been suggested by some studies that genetics are a factor in the development of keratoconus with around 15% of patients having a family member with the condition. The chance of a keratoconic patient’s children to develop the condition is around 10%. While the exact cause is not known many suffers also experience allergies and eczema and there is a high occurrence of eye rubbing.
At the Fendalton Eye Clinic we have the latest technology to accurately determine the topography (shape and thickness) of the cornea. This allows us to screen for any potential keratoconic changes to the eye.
Dr David Kent offers corneal crosslinking to help strengthen the corneal and halt progression and corneal implant surgery to help visual acuity.
While keratoconus has been known and studied for over 200 years the specific cause is not yet fully understood.
The two main theories that have been proposed for the physiological cause of keratoconus are:
In the initial stages of keratoconus most patients find that glasses or contact lenses correct their vision highly without issue. However, if the condition is progressing and regular updates to a spectacle correction are required then it is worth considering further treatment options.
At Fendalton Eye Clinic, Dr David Kent offers corneal cross-linking to halt the progression of keratoconus and keraring corneal implant procedure to help improve visual acuity.
Corneal collagen crosslinking is a process used to strengthen the cornea and halt any further progression of the condition.
It works by soaking the cornea in a riboflavin solution that contains vitamin B and exposing the eye to ultraviolet radiation. The UV light activates the riboflavin and encourages the creation of collagen bonds, or cross links. These bonds are responsible for preventing the cornea from protruding further progressing the condition. Crosslinking is not a cure for keratoconus and glasses or contact lenses would still be required after the procedure. However, it is a proven method to halt any progression of keratoconus and prevent any further loss of vision or the need for corneal transplant.
In cases where patients are no longer able to get good visual outcomes from glasses or contact lenses the option of intra-corneal ring segments (Kerarings) may be considered.
The Keraring procedure has the goal of improving visual acuity by
The ring segments are implanted into the body of the cornea to support and reshape the corneal surface.
This treatment is often done in conjunction with corneal cross linking.