Do you have an oddly shaped cornea that bulges off your eye? Keratoconus is the name for this eye condition where your cornea is an irregular shape.
Most people with keratoconus only have a mild form of it, and few have severe symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about keratoconus and if contact lenses work to treat it.
What is Keratoconus?
The word keratoconus means cone-shaped cornea. It affects the structure of your cornea, creating a bulge in it over time.
This bulging is a result of a thinning cornea. It can cause vision loss if it progresses long enough without treatment.
When Do Most Patients Develop Keratoconus?
Keratoconus usually begins to develop in your late teens or twenties. Mild forms rarely have symptoms in these early stages, and the structural changes to your cornea are minimal.
More aggressive forms of keratoconus get diagnosed early, however. If it comes on rapidly, it quickly causes noticeable vision changes.
And the change in the shape of your cornea is noticeable. The longer it develops, the more pronounced the change of shape becomes and the more symptoms it has.
How Does a Healthy Cornea Work?
The cornea is the outer layer and surface of your eye. Light travels through your cornea and lens to your retina in the back of your eye.
Then your brain processes the information to create a visual image. A healthy cornea is round and smooth and flattens on the sides.
This way, light can travel through it without getting distorted as it flows to your retina. When the light gets focused on your retina, it creates a clear image in your brain.
How Does Keratoconus Impact Your Cornea and Vision?
Keratoconus impacts your cornea over time. As your cornea weakens and thins, it loses the ability to maintain its natural shape.
This thinning results in a cone shape. The cone-like bulge alters the standard curve of your cornea and may cause nearsightedness or astigmatism.
Since your cornea refracts or bends light entering your eye, changes to its shape impact your vision. These changes can make activities like driving and reading difficult.
Also, it is common for one eye to develop keratoconus more quickly than the other and for no shape changes to occur for a while. Then after some time, rapid changes can occur within months.
What are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?
There are many symptoms associated with Keratoconus. These symptoms include:
A burning sensation in your eyeSeeing glare at nightSensitive eyesOverly sensitive to lightDistorted vision
How Do You Treat Keratoconus?
If you have mild keratoconus, glasses or contacts can correct the changes to your vision. As it develops, these forms of treatment become less effective.
If you have more severe or advanced keratoconus, more powerful contacts are necessary. These contact lenses include:
Custom Soft Contact Lenses
These treat mild to moderate keratoconus. They are custom-made to treat your specific needs.
If you do not like gas-permeable lenses, these are a good option. They are more expensive than regular soft contacts, but insurance may cover them when treating keratoconus.
Scleral lenses are larger lenses that rest on the white part of your eye, called the sclera, and cover your cornea. This type of lens has many advantages.
Since they’re bigger than most lenses, they do not fall out, and dust or dirt particles cannot get under them. They are comfortable to wear than other contacts.
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses
RGP lenses are the primary treatment for keratoconus. They let you see clearly and provide a smooth surface that refracts light correctly.
All these contact lenses can help treat keratoconus. Different lenses are best for different stages, depending on the progression of your keratoconus. Your eye doctor will help you find the best treatment for your situation.
Is keratoconus impacting your eyesight? Schedule an appointment at Chicago Cornea Consultants in Chicago, IL, to ensure you keep your sight!