If you’ve been diagnosed with keratoconus, our New Holland eye doctors understand your challenge and are here to help you see clearly and comfortably.
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions to help you gain a better understanding of what keratoconus is and how it can be treated.
What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus affects about 1 in every 2,000 people. This progressive eye disease impacts the shape of the cornea, weakening it and causing it to thin and bulge outward into a cone shape.
The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped outer covering of the eye. It’s responsible for focusing incoming light onto the retina at the back of the eye to enable clear vision. So, when keratoconus develops, the change in the cornea’s shape directly impacts the way light is focused.
Keratoconus often results in nearsightedness and high levels of astigmatism — two refractive errors that cause blurry and distorted vision.
If left untreated, keratoconus can lead to permanent corneal damage and even loss of vision.
What Causes Keratoconus?
Keratoconus develops when the collagen fibers that support the cornea begin to weaken. While having a family member with the disease is a significant risk factor, the following conditions can also lead to keratoconus:
- Eye trauma
- Eye allergies
- Excessive eye rubbing
- Certain eye diseases
- Marfan syndrome
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Down syndrome
- Osteogenesis imperfecta
- Addison’s disease
- Leber’s congenital amaurosis
What are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?
The symptoms of keratoconus include:
- Blurry vision
- Distorted vision, with straight lines appearing bent or wavy
- Sensitivity to bright light and glare
- Red and irritated eyes
- Increasing difficulty wearing standard contact lenses
Most often, keratoconus is first detected in teens or young adults in their 20s, but symptoms can develop at any age.
Keratoconus symptoms usually start out mild but grow progressively worse over time — often for around a decade or two — until the condition plateaus.
Both eyes are usually affected, and it’s common to have a difference in optical prescriptions between each eye.
Can Keratoconus Cause Vision Loss?
Keratoconus progression causes nearsightedness, astigmatism and visual distortions to worsen.
Eventually, corneal swelling can lead to scarring of the corneal tissue, which diminishes its transparency and increases your risk of vision loss.
Early detection and treatment of this condition is therefore critical for preventing permanent vision loss.
Can Keratoconus Be Corrected?
Initially, blurry and distorted vision can be corrected with custom-fit soft contact lenses or eyeglasses. However, as the condition progresses and your cornea becomes increasingly cone-shaped, these standard methods of vision correction become less effective.
At this point, many patients with mild to moderate keratoconus opt for scleral lenses, an effective, non-surgical method of achieving clear vision.
Severe keratoconus may require a corneal transplant procedure to replace your damaged cornea with a healthy donor cornea.
What are Scleral Lenses?
Scleral lenses are rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses specially designed for people with irregularly shaped corneas.
These specialized lenses are larger in size than standard lenses, allowing them to vault over the sensitive corneal tissue and rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye. They also accommodate a nourishing reservoir of fluid for optimal comfort and visual clarity, making them ideal for people with severe dry eye syndrome.
Don’t let keratoconus impact your quality of life. We can help you achieve clear, comfortable vision with scleral contact lenses.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with keratoconus, call Optometric Associates today to schedule a scleral lens consultation.
Our practice serves patients from New Holland, Lancaster, Philadelphia, and Reading, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.
A: While scleral lenses are easy to handle and care for, it can take a few days to feel comfortable inserting and removing them from your eyes. The more you [practice] the easier it will become. Once the lenses are settled in your eyes, you’ll benefit from the crisp and comfortable vision they provide.
Q: Are scleral lenses covered by insurance?
A: When it comes to scleral lenses, every insurance company is different. We recommend contacting us or checking with your insurance provider to find out if scleral lenses are covered under your plan.