Focus: An ocular health blog
Keratoconus is a degenerative eye condition affecting the cornea which is the front surface of the eye responsible for focusing or converging the light and images through the eye. Keratoconus occurs when the cornea losses structural rigidity due to thining, resulting in areas of bulging. The bulging is the result of the naturally
occurring pressure of the eye pushing the weak area of the cornea forward with the subsequent affect of distorting the cornea and causing vision loss. The cause is unknown but possibly related to genetics and/or environmental factors. Statistically 1 in 500 people are affected by this condition. Many people are undiagnosed and simply live with vision loss not realizing there are options to restore vision.
Restoration of Vision
After a successful diagnosis of keratoconus, vision is restored with a rigid contact lens which redefines or replaces the flawed optical system of the keratoconic patient. Scleral lenses are the most recent technological means of restoring vision and often result in vision improvement far superior to conventional contact lenses or glasses. The scleral lens is a rigid contact lens but different from conventional rigid or gas permeable contact lenses in that it does not move on the surface of the eye thus greatly reducing mechanical discomfort. The improved lens stability provides a more comfortable and versatile wearing experience.
Treatment of Keratoconus
The visual effects of keratoconus usually begin to occur between the ages of 18 and 30 with progression over the course of 15 years. Historical treatment of the eye condition is surgical transplant of the cornea performed at an advanced stage. Corneal Collagen Cross Linking (CXL) is the latest treatment modality for keratoconus. CXL is a one hour procedure that involves four steps.
- prepare the cornea for better absorption of riboflavin
- drops of riboflavin over the course of 30 minutes
- UV light to activate the riboflavin
- bandage contact lens to be worn for a couple of days.
Activation of the riboflavin strengthens the connective tissue in the weakened areas of the cornea reducing the progressive bulging of the surface. It is performed to reduce progression so earlier detection and treatment is recommended. The procedure has been performed extensively in Europe with various studies indicating it’s efficacy.
Unfortunately, health insurance does not recognize the procedure in the United States so it is an out of pocket expense.
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