This debilitating condition occurs when the smooth, round, front surface of the eye (the cornea) becomes irregular in shape due to a loss or thinning of tissue. This change in shape, which may be referred to as a “cone”, prevents light entering the eye from being focused on the retina in a clear pattern and leads to a blurred, distortion in vision.
Keratoconus may first begin in someone in their late teens or 20s. The condition may progress for 10-20 years, but will usually slow in its progression afterwards. Both eyes are generally affected, although one eye may be worse than the other. In the beginning stages of the disease, eyeglasses or conventional soft contact lenses may be used to achieve functional vision. However, in order to obtain clear vision, rigid gas-permeable contact lenses or another type of specialty contact lens are often needed to match the changes in the shape of curvature of the cornea in order to create a smooth, regular front surface. These therapeutic contact lenses are not for cosmetic purposes, as keratoconus is one of the few conditions where contact lenses are actually viewed as a medical necessity. In severe cases where these therapeutic contact lenses fail to provide adequate functional vision, a corneal transplant may be warranted.
Early signs of keratoconus may include: suffering from frequent prescription changes, feeling that you see clearer through your contact lenses than your glasses, or feeling that you never see great through the eyeglasses or soft contact lenses. If you are experiencing any of these problems, or if there is someone in your family who has already been diagnosed with keratoconus, schedule an appointment to speak to one of our doctors so that we can help you achieve your best vision.