Keratoconus is an eye condition, where the cornea which is usually round and dome-shaped begins to thin, bulge out and become more conical shaped. The irregular shape of the cornea prevents light from getting focussed on the retina and deflects it, which leads to blurry, distorted vision and sensitivity towards a bright light.
Normally, the shape of the cornea is maintained by tiny protein fibres called collagen. Due to decrease in protective antioxidants in the eye, the collagen fibres become weaker due to an imbalance of enzymes in the cornea which makes it more susceptible to free radical oxidative damage, thereby the collagen fibre loses its strength to hold the cornea in shape causing it to become conical.
Keratoconus is hereditary and can often affect the kids if either parent is already suffering from the ailment. It can also happen or speed up due to some medical conditions, environmental factors, allergies or severe eye rubbing.
Keratoconus is usually recognizable by blurred vision or sensitivity to bright light in the earlier stages but the signs and symptoms of this ailment gradually become severe over a time period of 10-20 years.
- Light Sensitivity or lights streaking
- Double Vision in one eye
- Blurred and distorted vision at all distance
- Myopia or near-sightedness
- Ghostly images i.e. appearance of more than one image when focussing at one
- Poor night vision
Diagnosis and Treatment
Keratoconus is usually diagnosed by an eye specialist, i.e. an ophthalmologist or optometrist after proper physical examination i.e. thoroughly analysing the shape and size of the cornea and assessment of the patient’s past medical history. The ophthalmologist usually performs a corneal topography, which is taking pictures of the cornea to analyse the size and shape of the cornea.
In the earlier stages of this eye ailment, it can be characterized as mild astigmatism which can be corrected by prescribing:
- Contact lenses or specialized spectacles or eyeglasses which helps in the proper focusing of light and treats distorted vision.
But a more progressive form of keratoconus can be treated by:
- Gas Permeable Lenses which improves vision and helps to rectify the conical shape of the cornea by forming a smooth, clear layer on it.
- Customised Soft Contact Lens which are larger in diameter than regular lenses and helps in correcting near-sightedness or far-sightedness.
Other types of lenses are also prescribed by the doctor depending upon the severity of the ailment like:
- Piggy-back lenses
- Hybrid Lenses
- Scleral Lenses
In acute cases of keratoconus, which cannot be corrected by lenses, the doctor may suggest for eye surgery to repair the irregular shape of the eye.