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Keratoconus

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Teenagers and adults in their early 20s can develop an eye condition called keratoconus that causes the eyes to bulge outward, taking on a cone shape. Caused by the thinning of the outer layer of the eye (cornea), this tissue becomes too weak to support a normal shape. Not only does this cause a physical distortion of the eye, it will also cause vision problems such as:

  • Blurriness or distortion
  • Glare
  • Ghosting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Irritation

These symptoms may not manifest right away. As you live with keratoconus over 10-20 years, the symptoms may become more noticeable as your cornea continues to change. The shape of your cornea dictates how light entering your eyes will land on the back of your eye (retina).

Treatments for Keratoconus

There are different ways to treat keratoconus, depending on the severity of your condition and the rate of progression. We may recommend eyeglasses or soft contact lenses in the early stages. As the condition progresses, rigid contact lenses may be more effective in providing clear vision. When these start to lose effectiveness, we may recommend cross-linking or corneal implants. These are not cures, but they can help slow the progression of the disease.

Corneal Collagen Cross-linking

Corneal collagen cross-linking is a method to make the cornea stronger using a combination of riboflavin solution drops into the eye (a form of vitamin-B2) followed by the application of controlled ultraviolet (UV) light exposure for up to 30 minutes. This 2-step process has been shown to increase the cross-links in the cornea to provide strength and stability to the cornea. Only one treatment may be needed for some patients. This treatment may be covered by insurance.

Intacs® Corneal Implants

Another way to improve vision is to insert thin implants into the eyes to reshape the cornea. At Azul Vision, we may recommend Intacs corneal implants that use ring segments to push the cornea outward so the bulging shape is minimized. Only a small incision is needed to insert the rings into the layers of your cornea. These implants are virtually invisible in the eyes and you won’t be able to feel them.

In severe cases, it may be necessary to have a corneal transplant. Your doctor will only recommend this treatment if your corneal damage from keratoconus is very severe.

Keratoconus can be hereditary or it may be caused by an enzyme imbalance in the cornea. If you have a family history of keratoconus or if you notice that your child’s eyes look different, contact our team at Azul Vision. We can assess the situation and give treatment recommendations.

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