Understanding the Different Treatments for Keratoconus

Keratoconus is most likely a hereditary condition. If you have it, the clear covering of your eye, your cornea, thins and becomes misshapen. Normally, your cornea is dome-shaped, but as keratoconus progresses, it becomes more pointed, like a cone. 

The specialists at Cooper Eye Care have helped many patients who have keratoconus. There are multiple treatment approaches, and the one likely to work best for you depends on numerous factors, such as whether your condition is progressing, your symptoms, and many others. 

Risk factors and diagnosis

Having a family history of keratoconus is the biggest risk factor for the condition, although there’s some evidence that being black or Latino could increase your risk.

In most cases, the early symptoms of keratoconus, blurry and distorted vision and sensitivity to light and glare, first occur in your late teens or early 20s. It’s possible for the condition to develop at other times in your life, but that’s the most common age range.

Generally, keratoconus continues to progress for 10-20 years, and then slows. More rarely, your cornea may suddenly swell and crack, causing a significant, sudden decrease in vision. 

Treatments

The best treatment for keratoconus often depends on the stage of progression of the disease. Here are some of the ways your doctor may suggest treating your condition: 

Eyeglasses and soft contact lenses

Early in keratoconus, your nearsightedness and astigmatism can most likely be corrected with eyeglasses or soft contact lenses. 

Collagen cross-linking

The fibers that hold your cornea in a dome-shape are collagen fibers. With keratoconus, the collagen fibers weaken and break down, allowing the bulge that distorts your vision.

One treatment option is adding collagen fibers that act as supports for your weakened ones. The additional, supporting collagen fibers, called cross-links, can help hold your cornea in place and slow the progression of your disease. 

Rigid, gas permeable contact lenses

Rigid, or hard, contacts may correct your vision and hold your cornea in place. It’s important to make sure hard contacts are properly fitted and for frequent checkups to make sure they are still correctly fitted and working well for your eye. 

Intacs

Intacs are implantable rings that may improve your vision, allow your contacts to fit better, and may help stabilize your cornea following collagen cross-linking. 

Corneal transplant

In some cases, a corneal transplant is the best treatment for keratoconus. When you have a corneal transplant, your cornea is removed and one from a donor is placed in your eye. Corneal transplants have a high rate of success. 

Your unique eyes

At Cooper Eye Center, you can expect any advice to be specifically tailored to your situation. Before your doctor suggests a treatment for keratoconus, they will thoroughly examine your eyes, discuss your family history with you, talk to you about your needs and preferences, and explain your options. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with keratoconus, or you have reason to be concerned you’re developing the condition, schedule an appointment at Cooper Eye Care. You can book an appointment online or by phone at either our Manhattan or Brooklyn offices. 

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