Our eyes have a protective clear barrier against germ, dirt, and other harmful things called cornea. If the cornea gets damage via injuries, infections or any other factors, it might affect our vision. As a matter of fact, there is a tolerant disease that can change. Or distort the shape of cornea named as keratoconus. This disease might affect our daily lives as it makes our cornea thinner which may result in blurry vision. As you go further to this article, you might gain some insights into the causes, symptoms, as well as the treatments for keratoconus. So stay reading and feed your mind with insightful ideas regarding this disease.
Keratoconus: What is this illness?
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As mentioned a while ago, keratoconus is a condition wherein there is a gradual thinning of the cornea. When the cornea begins to become thin, it bulges out forming an unnatural rounded cone shape which brings light rays out of focus. The deformed curvature of the cornea may lead to nearsightedness (myopia), blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light and astigmatism.
Causes of Keratoconus
The cause of keratoconus is yet unknown but according to some studies, it is most likely due to the combination of genetic vulnerability along with the hormonal and environmental factors. Moreover, there are new researchers suggesting that the corneal tissue’s enfeebling, which results to keratoconus may be caused by a deficiency of an enzyme in our cornea. This deficiency causes the cornea to be more vulnerable to oxidative damages caused by free radicals.
In addition, the cause of this condition is also in connection to the excessive rubbing of the eye, lingering irritation of the eye, poorly fitted contact lenses, and overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays emitted by the sun.
Symptoms of keratoconus
The progressive distortion of the cornea triggers irregular astigmatism and nearsightedness that develops greater problems with blurred and distorted vision. A person with keratoconus will also experience light and glare sensitivity, eye strain, eye irritation, eye redness or swelling, headaches and general eye pain.
Treatments for Keratoconus
One of the treatments for keratoconus includes the use of lenient contact lenses/eyeglasses for the early stage. But as the cornea continues to thin and change in shape, rigid gas spongy contact lenses can be in a prescription to correct the vision. Listed below are some of the possible treatments for keratoconus:
Piggybacking contact lenses
Gas permeable contact lenses dome above the cornea that’s in a shape of a cone can possibly uncomfortable. That’s the reason why some eye care experts practices “piggybacking” two varieties of contact lenses in one eye. You can do this method by placing a soft lens over the eye before fitting a gas permeable lens over that soft lens. This increases the comfort of the wearer since the soft lens acts like a suppressing pad under the stiff GP lens.
Custom Soft Contact lenses
The custom soft contact lenses, actually are made to correct the mild-to-moderate effect of keratoconus. These lenses are usually made-to-order basing on the measurements of the patient’s eye(s).
Semi-scleral and scleral lenses
These are a larger version of the gas permeable type of contact lenses. The fact that it is larger makes it rest even more on the sclera. On the other hand, the semi-scleral lenses encompass a smaller area than the scleral. These kinds of lenses are more comfortable as it doesn’t apply pressure to the cone-shaped cornea.
Gas permeable type of contact lenses
If the use of eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may not manage the progress of keratoconus, there are gas permeable type of contact lenses. Furthermore, this type contact lenses dome above the cornea. Thus replacing its unnatural shape with a smooth, uniform bending surface to improve vision.
Corneal Cross-linking (CXL)
This treatment is also called corneal cross-linking of the collagen and it has two versions called the epithelium-on & epithelium-off. The epithelium-off method removes the crosslinking of the outer layer of the cornea. This is to allow the entry of vitamin B, and riboflavin into cornea which will eventually activate with UV light. On the other hand, the epithelium-on process allows the corneal epithelium to still be intact during the treatment. It usually requires more time for the riboflavin to enter into the cornea but it is way better because it prevents the risk of infection and it promotes faster visual recovery. The use of CXL treatment reduces the necessity for various corneal transfers for keratoconus patients
Topography-guided conductive keratoplasty
This treatment involves the use of radio waves applied on the several points in the corners of the cornea to reshape it. Thus, a topographic map made by the computer imaging of the eye’s surface will help to create individualized treatment plans.
This kind of treatment is surgically applied and there is a tiny plastic insert placed just beneath the eye’s surface in the edge of the cornea. This is to reshape it for clearer vision. For instance, this kind of treatment is applicable if there is no longer way to obtain satisfactory vision with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Those who have keratoconus can’t tolerate firm and irritating contact lenses. Or there might be no other choices as other therapies can no longer offer a satisfactory vision. Thus, the last option will be a transplant of the cornea. Wherein after the transplant, the patient will likely need glasses for clearer vision