Vision Unveiled

Seeing Clearly: A Comprehensive Guide to Treating Keratoconus

Treating Keratoconus: A Comprehensive Guide to Improve VisionImagine waking up one morning, only to find your vision distorted, making everything appear blurry and unclear. This could be a sign of keratoconus, a progressive eye disease that affects the cornea.

In this informative article, we will delve into the details of keratoconus, its symptoms, causes, and the various treatment options available.

Definition and Symptoms

Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease where the cornea, which is responsible for focusing light into the eye, thins and bulges, taking on a cone-like shape. This results in distorted vision, making it difficult to perform daily tasks such as driving or reading.

The symptoms of keratoconus can vary from person to person, but here are some common signs to look out for:

– Blurry or distorted vision: Objects may appear blurry or distorted, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses. – Frequent changes in prescription: The need for frequent changes in glasses or contact lens prescriptions is often one of the first signs of keratoconus.

– Increased sensitivity to light: Bright lights may cause discomfort or glare. – Ghosting or multiple images: Double vision or seeing multiple images may occur.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of keratoconus is still unknown, but several factors may contribute to its development. An imbalance of enzymes within the cornea, leading to oxidative damage, is believed to play a role.

Additionally, genetic predisposition, UV ray exposure, eye rubbing, and even excessive use of contact lenses have been identified as potential risk factors for keratoconus. While keratoconus can affect anyone, certain individuals may be more prone to the condition.

Those with a family history of keratoconus or certain genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome, are at a higher risk. Furthermore, individuals who frequently engage in eye-rubbing activities or prolonged contact lens use increase their risk of developing keratoconus.

Corneal Crosslinking

Corneal crosslinking (CXL) is a widely accepted and effective treatment option for keratoconus. This procedure aims to strengthen the corneal tissue, halting the bulging and progression of the disease.

During the procedure, the eye is numbed with eye drops, and a riboflavin solution is applied to the cornea. The cornea is then exposed to ultraviolet light, activating the riboflavin to create cross-links between collagen fibers in the cornea.

This strengthens and stabilizes the cornea, preventing further thinning and bulging. The Glaukos KXL System, along with Photrexa and Photrexa Viscous, are commonly used in corneal crosslinking procedures.

These products have been approved by the FDA and have shown promising results in halting the progression of keratoconus.

Custom Soft Contact Lenses

For individuals with mild-to-moderate keratoconus, custom soft contact lenses can provide an effective means of improving vision. These lenses, such as KeraSoft and NovaKone, are specifically designed to correct the irregular shape of the cornea, thus reducing the distortion and improving visual acuity.

KeraSoft lenses, made from silicone hydrogel, offer excellent oxygen permeability and optimal comfort for keratoconus sufferers. The advanced design of these lenses ensures a good fit and stability on the cornea, enhancing vision quality while allowing the eyes to breathe.

NovaKone lenses are another option for individuals with keratoconus. These lenses utilize a unique back-surface design that closely follows the shape of the cornea, providing a comfortable and secure fit.

NovaKone lenses are highly customizable, catering to the specific needs of each individual, ensuring improved vision and enhanced quality of life. In Conclusion:

Keratoconus can significantly impact a person’s life, making everyday tasks challenging and compromising visual acuity.

However, with advancements in treatment options such as corneal crosslinking and custom soft contact lenses, individuals with keratoconus can regain clearer vision and enjoy a better quality of life. By understanding the symptoms, causes, and available treatment options, individuals can take proactive steps towards managing their keratoconus and seeking the appropriate treatment from qualified eye care professionals.

Remember, early detection and intervention are crucial in controlling the progression of keratoconus and improving visual outcomes.

Keratoconus Treatment Options (Continued)

Gas Permeable Contact Lenses

Gas permeable contact lenses, also known as rigid gas permeable or RGP lenses, are a popular treatment option for keratoconus. These lenses are designed to improve visual acuity by creating a smooth and uniform refracting surface on the cornea.

Unlike soft contact lenses, gas permeable lenses are made of a hard, oxygen-permeable material that allows better oxygen flow to the cornea. This promotes better eye health and long-term comfort.

The rigid nature of these lenses also helps to reshape the cornea and correct its irregular shape caused by keratoconus. Gas permeable lenses provide excellent visual acuity, often surpassing the results achieved with soft contact lenses.

However, it may take some time for the eyes to adjust to wearing these lenses, and initial discomfort is not uncommon. With regular use, most individuals find that their eyes adapt, and the lenses become more comfortable over time.

“Piggybacking” Contact Lenses

“Piggybacking” is a contact lens method commonly used to provide additional comfort for individuals with keratoconus. This technique involves wearing a soft lens as a cushioning pad on the eye, with a gas permeable lens placed on top of it.

The soft lens acts as a comfortable layer between the sensitive cornea and the rigid gas permeable lens, reducing discomfort and improving overall wearability. The combination of these two different types of lenses allows for better vision correction while maintaining comfort.

This technique is particularly useful for individuals who have difficulty adapting to the rigid nature of gas permeable lenses alone or experience discomfort due to a mismatch in the lens shape and corneal irregularities. It offers a flexible solution for keratoconus patients, providing the benefits of both soft and rigid lenses.

Hybrid Contact Lenses

Hybrid contact lenses combine the benefits of both gas permeable and soft lenses, offering crisp optics and soft lens comfort. These lenses feature a rigid center with a peripheral soft skirt, providing both stability and comfort.

UltraHealth and ClearKone are two examples of hybrid lenses that have been specifically designed for individuals with keratoconus. These lenses have a customized multifocal design, which helps correct vision at various distances, reducing the need for additional vision correction methods.

UltraHealth lenses utilize a unique front surface design that caters to the irregular shape of the cornea, ensuring a stable fit and improving visual clarity. On the other hand, ClearKone lenses utilize a cone-specific design, optimizing the fit and vision for keratoconus patients.

Scleral and Semi-Scleral Lenses

Scleral and semi-scleral lenses are larger-diameter contact lenses that bridge the entire cornea, resting on the sclera, the white part of the eye. These lenses create a vaulting effect over the cornea, providing a stable and comfortable fit while correcting vision for individuals with keratoconus.

The larger size of these lenses ensures better surface coverage, preventing lens movement and enhancing visual acuity. The space between the back surface of the lens and the cornea is filled with a saline solution, which acts as a moisture reservoir, providing comfort throughout the day.

Due to their design, scleral and semi-scleral lenses are ideal for individuals with moderate-to-severe keratoconus or those who experience discomfort with other contact lens options. They offer a reliable solution, particularly for patients with irregular corneal shapes or a high degree of corneal asymmetry.

Prosthetic Lenses

Prosthetic lenses, also known as prosthetic devices or scleral shells, are custom-made contact lenses designed to match the shape and appearance of the natural eye while also correcting vision for individuals with keratoconus. One advanced technique used in creating prosthetic lenses is the EyePrintPRO process.

This process involves taking a highly detailed impression of the eye’s surface using a silicone impression material. This impression is then used to manufacture a personalized prosthetic lens that matches the individual eye’s irregularities.

The precision of the EyePrintPRO process allows for a precise back surface fit, ensuring optimal comfort and vision correction. Prosthetic lenses are an excellent option for individuals who have exhausted other treatment options or have significant corneal irregularities that cannot be adequately corrected by other means.


Intacs, or intracorneal ring segments, are clear corneal inserts that help reshape the front surface of the cornea, improving visual acuity for individuals with keratoconus. During an

Intacs procedure, two crescent-shaped plastic rings are inserted into the cornea near its outer edge.

These rings flatten the central cornea, reducing the cone-like bulging caused by keratoconus. The placement of

Intacs can help improve vision by reducing irregular astigmatism and allowing light to focus more precisely on the retina.

Intacs offer a reversible treatment option, meaning they can be removed or replaced if needed. This flexibility makes them an attractive choice for individuals seeking a temporary or adjustable solution for their keratoconus.

Topography-Guided Conductive Keratoplasty

Topography-guided conductive keratoplasty (CK) is a specialized laser procedure that aims to smooth the corneal surface and correct irregularities caused by keratoconus. This innovative treatment uses radio waves to reshape the front surface of the cornea based on a detailed topographic map of the eye’s surface.

During the CK procedure, precise radio wave energy is delivered to specific areas of the cornea, gently reshaping the curvature and improving visual acuity. The personalized nature of this treatment ensures that the cornea is reshaped according to the unique irregularities and needs of each individual with keratoconus.

Topography-guided CK is often combined with other treatment modalities, such as

Intacs or corneal crosslinking, to provide comprehensive care and enhance visual outcomes.

Corneal Transplant

In severe cases of keratoconus where other treatment options have been exhausted or are deemed ineffective, a corneal transplant may be necessary. Also known as penetrating keratoplasty, this surgical procedure involves replacing the damaged cornea with a healthy donor cornea.

Corneal transplant is typically considered a last resort due to the risks associated with surgery, the need for post-operative care, and the potential for rejection of the donor cornea. However, for individuals with advanced keratoconus or those who experience significant vision loss, a corneal transplant can offer an acceptable level of vision.

It is important to note that corneal transplantation carries its own set of risks and complications, and thorough evaluation and discussion with an eye care professional are required to determine the appropriateness of this option for each individual.

Keratoconus Progression and Prescription Changes

Keratoconus is a progressive condition, and as the disease advances, changes in prescription eyewear are often necessary to maintain optimal vision. Regular eye exams are crucial for monitoring the progression of keratoconus and identifying any changes in visual acuity.

Prescription changes for keratoconus typically involve updating the parameters of contact lenses or glasses to accommodate the evolving shape of the cornea. This may include altering the lens power, base curve, or lens design to ensure a proper fit and improved vision.

Individuals with keratoconus should work closely with their eye care professional to regularly assess their visual needs, adjust prescriptions as needed, and explore the most suitable treatment options to manage the condition effectively.

Associated Complications and Risks

While keratoconus treatment options can significantly improve visual outcomes, it is important to be aware of potential complications and risks associated with certain procedures or interventions. Complications following vision correction surgery, such as corneal crosslinking or corneal transplant, may include infection, scarring, irregular healing, or graft rejection.

These risks underscore the importance of proper pre-operative evaluation, meticulous surgical technique, and diligent post-operative care to minimize potential complications. Similarly, contact lens wear, especially when not properly fitted or maintained, can lead to complications such as corneal abrasions, infections, or corneal ulcers.

Regular follow-ups with an eye care professional, adherence to proper hygiene practices, and responsible lens care are vital in mitigating these risks. Individuals considering any keratoconus treatment should consult an experienced eye care professional who can assess their specific condition, discuss potential risks and benefits, and provide personalized guidance on the most suitable treatment options.

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In conclusion, keratoconus is a progressive eye disease that can significantly impact vision. However, numerous treatment options are available to help individuals manage and improve their visual acuity.

These options include corneal crosslinking, custom soft contact lenses, gas permeable lenses, hybrid lenses, scleral lenses, prosthetic lenses,

Intacs, topography-guided conductive keratoplasty, and corneal transplant. Each treatment option has its own benefits and considerations, and it is essential to work closely with an eye care professional to determine the most suitable approach.

Regular eye exams and monitoring the progression of keratoconus are crucial in adjusting prescriptions and managing the condition effectively. By understanding the available treatment options, individuals with keratoconus can take proactive steps towards improving their vision and enhancing their quality of life.

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