Do You Have Keratoconus? There Are 10 Different Treatment Options Available

Keratoconus is a condition that occurs when the cornea becomes thin and irregular which impacts your vision and causes a variety of symptoms. The good news is that there are 10 different effective methods of treatment available for keratoconus.

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What Treatments Are Available for Keratoconus?

Advancements in medical technology provide different options for treating keratoconus throughout the stages of this degenerative disorder. Often the condition progresses slowly. As the cornea weakens and becomes thinner, it begins to bulge outward, eventually resembling a cone. This conical shape distorts refraction, leading to increased visual impairment. 

The following article will discuss 10 popular methods for treating this condition.  Many of these treatments follow a general progression, where each intervention represents a more advanced option to deal with more severe deterioration. Managing keratoconus is not a monolithic process, nor does it follow in a linear path.  Often, combinations of treatments and interventions are required to complement one another. 

In certain instances, procedures may need to be undertaken more than once over the lifetime of the patient. The following section is not a diagnostic aid, nor is it a treatment plan advocating one form of intervention over another. There is no substitute for an optometrist or eye doctor to assess, diagnose, and treat eye disorders.

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Possible Causes 

While there is no definitive evidence of direct causation for keratoconus, research suggests that the following may constitute risk factors for this condition:

  • Genetic and hereditary causes: Studies suggest that both of these factors may lead to a higher risk for this disease. 
  • Trauma: Injurious eye-rubbing with the knuckles has been linked to corneal deterioration.
  • Environmental: Factors such as heat may lead to excessive dryness and subsequent eye-rubbing. Excessive sun exposure may also contribute to corneal damage.
Common Symptoms 

Common Symptoms 

The presence of any of the following may be a symptom of this condition. Contact your optometrist if these symptoms persist or if you experience severe pain or others signs that might require immediate medical intervention.

  • Blurred or distorted vision: Patients often experience "halos", "streaks", and "trails" when looking at bright light or glare.
  • Strain/discomfort: Sometimes patients experience strain or discomfort from  deteriorating vision.
10 Common Treatments

10 Common Treatments

The following interventions are commonly used to treat keratoconus.

  1. Standard eyeglasses: During the early stages, prescription glasses are often sufficient.
  2. Standard soft lenses: Many patients with moderate keratoconus are able to wear comfortable soft contacts until the condition advances.
  3. Hard lenses: These types are less comfortable than the former, but provide good durability and are effective in improving eyesight.
  4. Hybrid/gas permeable lenses: Hybrid lenses have a blended function, combining the comfort of soft lenses with added gas permeability.  Other gas permeable types also enable the flow of oxygen to the eye.
  5. “Piggy-backing” contacts: A method of correcting vision, where one contact is placed on top of another in a “piggy-back” fashion..
  6. Scleral lenses: These may become necessary with advanced cases, when corneal damage requires lenses which sit on the sclera. Often used following transplants when corneal scarring prevents the use of standard contacts.
  7. Cross-linking: This out-patient procedure involves riboflavin drops and UV light treatment to prevent further alterations to the eye’s shape. Severe changes in corneal shape or vision loss, will eventually render this an ineffective measure.
  8. Intacs: A procedure where semi-circular rings are inserted to flatten the cornea and reduce the cone shape.
  9. Keratoplasty: A surgical method of reshaping the cornea using radio waves.
  10. Corneal transplants: In advanced cases, this surgery may be required to replace damaged tissue with healthy donor tissue. Scleral lenses may be necessary following surgery due to scarring and damage.
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Choosing A Treatment Plan For Keratoconus

Choosing A Treatment Plan For Keratoconus

Advanced medical technology provides many options for managing keratoconus throughout the different stages of the condition. Typically, as it advances and vision deteriorates, patients require changes in medical care and interventions, such as an increased dependence on specialty glasses and the need for surgical procedures.

Speak with your healthcare provider to find out precisely what medical coverage your health insurance plan entitles you to. Discuss the different options with your optometrist to create an effective treatment plan that will enable you to manage the condition and continue to enjoy healthy vision.

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