Keratoconus is a degenerative eye condition when the front surface of the eye or the cornea becomes irregular in shape, resulting in thinning, bulging and in some cases scarring can occur. Keratoconus commonly occurs during adolescence and young adulthood and those with a family history of keratoconus plays a role. Excessive rubbing of the eyes and allergy are also risk factors.
The bulging of the cornea affects the light rays entering the eye to the retina causing vision to be distorted. Patients notice progressive distortion of their vision over many years, usually starting in their teens and may progress into their 30’s. It is common for keratoconus to be more advanced in one eye than the other. Other symptoms include irritation, glare and photophobia.
Initially glasses or contact lenses can be prescribed to correct the distortion in vision. Certain types of contact lenses can be specially designed and customized for the individual patient. If lens correction is not suitable then corneal transplantation is possible to correct the abnormal corneal shape. Modern techniques greatly reduce the risks of complications such as rejection.
Patients with advanced keratoconus will often require corneal transplantation, which, while often necessary, is a complex procedure that requires donor corneas to be available. It also has a long recovery period though modern techniques such as deep lamellar keratoplasty greatly reduce the risks of complications such as rejection. Another treatment option available is corneal collagen cross linking (CCXL). Some patients who are able to undergo timely CCXL, which uses ultraviolet light and drops to help slow the progression of the condition, may potentially avoid the need for a corneal transplantation.