An introduction to keratoconus
- Keratoconus is a degenerative disorder of the eye. Structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than its normal gradual curve.
- Keratoconus is an extreme form of astigmatism. It can cause substantial distortion of vision, with multiple images, streaking and sensitivity to light.
Keratoconus symptoms and lifestyle impacts
Depending on ethnicity, keratoconus affects up to one in 450 people. It is more common in non-Caucasians.
We can usually diagnose keratoconus in young people at puberty, in their late teens or early twenties. Your optometrist can detect early stages of keratoconus. In the early stages, keratoconus will not affect your vision.
Keratoconus does not cause blindness. If you don’t address keratoconus, however, the cornea can change further in shape. It can become thinner. In advanced stages, these changes can cause a loss of transparency.
The loss of transparency of the cornea can impair the ability of the eye to focus correctly. Even in advanced keratoconus, however, we may be able to correct your vision with contact lenses.
Causes of keratoconus
The exact cause of keratoconus is unknown. Genetics and environmental factors may play a role.
Ophthalmologists do not consider it an inherited disease. Rarely, in some families, keratoconus can affect more than one family member.
The image below shows the differences between a normal eye and a keratoconic eye.
Keratoconus examination in Toronto
Each time you attend our clinic for keratoconus, we will perform many of the same tests, including:
- Vision (reading chart)
- Refraction (glasses test)
- Corneal scans
We will compare these results with those from your previous visits. If any of the results show deterioration, we will discuss with you whether CXL is required (see below).
Keratoconus treatment in Toronto
Until recently, the only cure for keratoconus was a corneal transplant. Clearview Institute is the first clinic in Canada to introduce Laser Light Transepithelial Crosslinking.
Laser Light Transepithelial Crosslinking is an innovative and much-improved version of Corneal Collagen Crosslinking (CXL), the traditional treatment for those with keratoconus and ectasia, as well as other degenerative eye disorders.
Learn about Laser Light Transepithelial Crosslinking
In the early stages, we can use glasses or soft contact lenses to correct your vision. As the cornea becomes thinner and steeper, we’ll likely need to use soft or rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses to correct vision more adequately.
In very advanced cases, where contact lenses fail to improve vision, you may need a corneal transplant. A corneal transplant is rare, however, since ophthalmologists introduced corneal crosslinking (CXL).
CXL is a relatively new treatment that can stop the progression of keratoconus. CXL is effective in over 94% of patients with a single 30-minute outpatient procedure.
CXL is only suitable where the corneal shape is continuing to deteriorate. We might detect continued deterioration at your follow-up appointments.
Your keratoconus does not require an urgent referral since changes caused by the condition usually take several months or even years to develop. Because of this, we monitor people with keratoconus and invite them back for repeat assessments.
If you suspect you have keratoconus, we recommend scheduling an appointment to see your eye doctor promptly. If you wish to get more information on surgical options our experienced team of eye care professionals will conduct a comprehensive examination, utilizing advanced diagnostic tools to accurately diagnose and assess the severity of keratoconus. If confirmed, we will discuss tailored treatment options. We are committed to providing personalized care to address your specific needs, ensuring optimal eye health and visual clarity.
Keratoconus does not typically go away on its own. It is a progressive condition characterized by the thinning and bulging of the cornea. While the rate of progression varies among individuals, keratoconus usually requires management to address visual distortions and discomfort. Treatment options, such as specialized contact lenses or, in some cases, surgical interventions like corneal cross-linking or corneal transplant, may be recommended based on the severity of the condition.
Yes, keratoconus can impact daily activities. Depending on the severity of the condition, individuals may experience blurred or distorted vision, sensitivity to light, and difficulty with tasks such as reading, driving, or recognizing faces. Effective management strategies, including the use of specialized contact lenses or other interventions, are crucial to helping individuals with keratoconus maintain an active and comfortable lifestyle.
The exact cause of keratoconus is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors. Individuals with a family history of keratoconus have a higher risk of developing the condition. Other potential contributing factors include chronic eye irritation, excessive eye rubbing, and certain systemic conditions. Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during puberty, pregnancy, or hormonal disorders, may also play a role in the development of keratoconus. Research is ongoing to further elucidate the complex interplay of these factors in the onset of this corneal condition.
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