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Keratoconus: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About keratoconus

Keratoconus is a disorder of the eye in which the cornea gets affected. The cornea is a very sensitive part of the eye and responsible for focussing of light rays which help in forming images in the eyes. Keratoconus is characterized by abnormal protrusion of the central part of cornea in such a way that the normal round shape of cornea is transformed into an abnormal conical shape.

Keratoconus: Incidence, age and sex

Keratoconus is generally encountered in individuals who regularly use contact lenses or who are near-sighted. Women may be slightly more prone to this condition as compared to men. The appearance of features of keratoconus usually occurs during the early teens.

Signs and symptoms of keratoconus: Diagnosis

Keratoconus may affect one or both of the eyes. It is manifested by slight blurring of the vision which is followed by distorted vision (astigmatism). Occasionally intolerance to bright light also called photo-sensitivity may also be manifested in some individuals.

Such features warrant immediate consultation with an eye specialist for a detailed eye examination including slit lamp examination before establishing the diagnosis. Other tests like corneal topography (to assess the curvature of the cornea) and pachymetry (to assess the thickness of the cornea) may also be done, if needed.

Causes and prevention of keratoconus

The exact cause of keratoconus remains unclear. However, an allergic eye condition or chronic eye irritation may play a significant role in its causation. It may also have a familial background. Moreover, damage to eyes by constant use of hard contact lens or persistent exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays may also lead to keratoconus.

Keratoconus: Complications

There seems to be no significant complications of keratoconus. However in rare cases, scarring of the cornea may be seen.

Keratoconus: Treatment

The treatment modalities of keratoconus include both conservative and surgical approach. Conservative treatment includes use of special eye glasses or gas permeable contact lens which may be of some benefit in mild cases of keratoconus. Severe cases of keratoconus usually need to undergo a corneal transplant surgery (penetrating keratoplasty) for effective improvement in vision. Newer technology which uses high frequency radio-energy waves may be considered in individuals who show no benefit with above stated treatment methods. The prognosis of keratoconus is variable even after treatment. The recovery in vision after surgery is gradual in most cases.