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Keratoconus can be an extremely uncomfortable and costly eye condition. Below are some important points about how Keratoconus progresses and the various costs that may be incurred when treating Keratoconus:
What Is Keratoconus and How Does it Affect People?
Keratoconus gradually causes the central area of the cornea to weaken, thin or bulge. It eventually distorts from its more spherical shape to a cone shape. This distortion may cause significant changes in vision which may begin in the late teen years and may not stop until age 40. While keratoconus can be an inherited bilateral (two eye) condition, many patients have no clear inheritance pattern. It has been estimated to occur in 1 out of every 2,000 persons.
How is Keratoconus Treated, and What Does it Involve?
The earliest changes of keratoconus may require frequent changes of glasses. As the corneal distortion worsens, contact lenses may be required to obtain adequate vision. In this case, contact lenses mask the warp or cone-like changes of the underlying cornea. Generally, most keratoconus patients can be safely managed with contact lenses yielding good vision and comfort.
In more advanced cases of keratoconus, vision in an eye can be suddenly, yet usually temporarily, lost through an event called "hydrops." During this process, the stretching cone-area of the cornea cracks, swells and in some cases scars.
When contact lenses can no longer correct vision adequately, or when highly specialized contact lenses can no longer be made to remain comfortably on the eye surface, surgical replacement of the distorted corneal area may be considered. This surgery is performed using donor cornea tissue to return the eye surface to a more normal shape.
Patients who handle their keratoconus problems successfully develop their own coping mechanisms. Sunglasses are advised to reduce glare symptoms. The condition may be easily diagnosed by using instruments such as the corneal topographer which measures the central corneal curvature. As the condition progresses the curvature readings become steeper and begin to appear irregular. Computerization of this corneal mapping process adds sophisticated algorithms to the intricate process of understanding the complex surface of the front of the eye. Corneal topography is a modern invaluable tool to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of keratoconus.