When we think of an eyeball, we generally imagine it being perfectly round. However, there are many corneal irregularities that can change the shape of the eye, like keratoconus. Irregularly shaped corneas change how the eye looks, and how light is refracted to the back of the eye, which creates the crisp image we see.
When the eye develops these changes in shape, it can lead to blurred vision.
Although keratoconus can’t be cured, there are many effective treatments to help you see clearer.
What Is Keratoconus, and How Does it Happen?
Often, keratoconus is a genetic condition. This means that if someone else in your family has developed it, it is possible you can develop it, too.
Keratoconus (“ker-ah-toe-CONE-us”) occurs when the cornea, the front part of your eye, stretches outward, causing thinning and bulging—and it looks like your eye is cone-shaped.
Other causes of keratoconus include:
- Frequent eye rubbing, or “knuckling”
- A history of asthma
- Having allergies
- Medical conditions like Down’s syndrome and retinitis pigmentosa
This change in shape prevents light from focusing correctly on the retina, and sometimes you can visibly see the difference in the eye’s shape. The biggest issue with keratoconus is that it can continue to advance if it’s left untreated.
Keratoconus & You
Typically, keratoconus begins developing in your late teens or early 20s. At first, you may notice your vision getting blurrier, but as it progresses, you may also experience:
- Increasing blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Increasing glare
- Light sensitivity
Detecting & Diagnosing Keratoconus
Fortunately, we can diagnose keratoconus earlier than ever before with the use of optometry know-how and modern diagnostic equipment.
Because keratoconus often begins developing in teenagers and early adulthood, and it can progress for 10–20 years before slowing down, it’s important to have your eyes examined regularly for any changes. Keratoconus can also affect each of your eyes at different rates.
At Specialty Eye, we use a combination of tests to provide you with the most accurate results possible:
- Refraction—testing refraction determines how light enters your eye, which can be changed by keratoconus and other refractive errors. This process determines your prescription using a phoropter and a retinoscope.
- Slit-lamp—a microscope with a bright light that shines into the back of your eye is called a slit-lamp, and it helps evaluate the shape of your cornea (the front part of your eye).
- Corneal mapping—corneal tomography and topography can often diagnose keratoconus earliest by mapping out the shape, dimensions, and thickness of your cornea.
- Keratometry—in keratometry, a circle of light is focused on the front of your eye and your eye doctor evaluates its shape and curvature for signs of keratoconus.
- Genetic testing—if you know that you have keratoconus, we can test your relatives (especially kids) to see if they are at risk of developing it.
Genetic Testing for Keratoconus
Specialty eye is leading the Pacific Northwest in early diagnosis of keratoconus with the use of genetic tests.
Genetic testing is especially important if you are related to someone who has keratoconus, or if you have keratoconus. If someone in your family tests positive for keratoconus early in their lives, we can monitor their eye health and ensure that keratoconus hardly affects their lives at all.
Using Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) the genetic test called AvaGen can provide an objective keratoconus risk score based on multiple gene clusters that are highly related to keratoconus development.
Schedule a visit for yourself and your children to see if we can identify those that are at risk for keratoconus. Specialty Eye can follow up with you to monitor for any changes to your eyes and the eyes of your family.
Keratoconus may impact how well you see, and it can have some uncomfortable effects on your daily life. And although there is no cure, there are some ways we can treat your eyes.
All treatments depend on your unique needs. Discuss your options with your eye doctor at your next visit.
Specialty Contact Lenses
Contact lenses can help you see better when you have a refractive error, like keratoconus. Specialty contact lenses, like rigid-gas permeable, hybrid, and scleral lenses, can help make your eyes more comfortable while correcting your vision.
As keratoconus advances, we may recommend a treatment called corneal crosslinking. Specialty Eye provides consultations and co-management treatments with ophthalmologists in the Pacific Northwest.
To prepare for this procedure, you will visit our optometrists who will do all of the measurements that your surgeon will require. We answer any of your questions and make sure you are fully ready for the procedure.
Corneal cross-linking works to strengthen the cornea using riboflavin B12 and ultraviolet light. This treatment has been proven to slow and halt the progression of keratoconus.
After the procedure, you return to Specialty Eye for ongoing follow up appointments and monitoring.
Specialty Eye Care for Your Keratoconus
Thankfully, keratoconus doesn’t have to negatively impact your life. The trusted optometrists at Specialty Eye are known across the Pacific Northwest for our quality keratoconus care using all types of lenses and treatments. Our doctors lecture internationally about specialty contact lenses, and help to train other doctors in this field.
Find your treatment for keratoconus and other eye issues by visiting Specialty Eye today.