Keratoconus is a condition where a portion of the cornea is abnormally steep and irregularly shaped. Because the cornea is the “clear window” allowing light into the eye, any irregularities can make vision blurry.
Visual changes from keratoconus are occasionally mild, but severe disease may cause thinning and scarring along the visual axis. The progressive shape and power changes in a cornea with keratoconus can make vision very blurry. Light sensitivity, sudden pain, and corneal swelling are all common in severe keratoconus. It is important to note that the right and left eye can be affected differently.
Early keratoconus can be treated with glasses or soft contacts. As the disease progresses, gas permeable or newer therapeutic contact lenses may be needed to obtain the best vision. Astigmatism-reducing therapies, such as corneal inserts (Intacs), have helped many patients find greater comfort and improved vision using contact lenses.
If contact lenses cannot adequately correct the abnormal corneal shape, collagen crosslinking may be considered. This cornea-strengthening procedure is the only means to stop progressive bulging in certain corneas. If crosslinking is not possible, cornea transplants are a next step.
Full-thickness and partial-thickness cornea transplants have been time-tested remedies for keratoconus. By replacing the irregular cornea with a sutured donor cornea, a relatively normal curvature can be restored.