What is Keratoconus?

KeratoconusKeratoconus is a condition of the eye which causes the cornea to thin out, resulting in a protrusion of the cornea.  Due to the protrusion, the front of the eye appears cone shaped, and the light passing through the eye becomes distorted. These distorted images can cause halos, starburst surrounding lights, blurred vision, multiple images, and ghosting.

Keratoconus is a progressive condition that often develops in the teens and into early adulthood, gradually worsening overtime.

What Causes Keratoconus?

The eye is composed of tiny fibers of proteins called collagen, which function to secure the cornea in place and prevent the tissue from protruding. Once those fibers become weak, they are no longer able to hold the shape, and thus the cornea gradually bulges outward into a cone shape.

Risk Factors of Keratoconus:

  • Overexposure to UV rays
  • Certain diseases such as arthritis or allergy conditions
  • Down Syndrome
  • Poorly fitted contacts
  • Chronic eye rubbing

Diagnosing Keratoconus

Keratoconus is not associated with physical symptoms such as inflammation and redness; therefore, this condition may go undetected for a long period of time. Most individuals who develop keratoconus will have a bilateral occurence.

Additional symptoms include:

  • Double vision
  • Distorted images
  • Sudden change in vision
  • Lights streaking
  • Halos
  • Ghosting of images

Diagnosing Keratoconus

What are My Treatment Options?

At Hawaii Eye Institute, we offer treatment options for each stage of keratoconus.

Mild Keratoconus: In the early stages, glasses or soft contacts can deliver immediate but temporary vision correction. Unfortunately, due to the progressive nature of the condition, there will be a point where glasses and contacts will no longer work.

Moderate Keratoconus: As the condition worsens, rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses and other specialty contacts are the next option.

Rigid gas permeable lenses are designed to comfortably sit on top of the cone shaped cornea. The lens creates a new refractive surface while providing substantial lubrication at the space in between the front of the eye and the lens.

Specialty design keratoconic lenses are also available and may be a more comfortable option for the severity of your condition. Call Hawaii Eye Institute to schedule a consultation today and to learn more about our specialty lens options for keratoconus!

Advanced Keratoconus: In the later stages, iron will begin to deposit around the protrusion of the cornea, causing the tissue to further thin and develop a secondary condition known as Vogt’s Striaes. Vogt’s creates a white line deep in the stroma of the eye which becomes visible around the cornea and base of the protrusion. Another secondary condition, found in rare cases of keratoconus, is Acute Hydrops; a condition where water floods the thinned areas of the cornea, which causes corneal scarring.

When glasses or contact lenses are no longer a suitable option in treating the condition, a corneal transplant may be your best option. If the cornea becomes clouded, or if you are experiencing pain that cannot be relieved with medications, Dr. Schmidt and Dr. Takayesu will discuss with you the benefits and outcomes of corneal surgery.

During the procedure, the diseased cornea will be removed from the eye and a donor cornea will be implanted. The surgery is done in as an outpatient procedure and is usually painless with a surgery time of 1 to 2 hours. Following the procedure, recovery is a long process, usually varying from 6 to 12 months for the eye to fully heal. Once the cornea stabilizes, vision should improve.

If you are experiencing keratoconus, our physicians at Hawaii Eye Institute will guide you in the best direction for your treatment options! Contact us today!


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