What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus (from Greek: kerato- horn, cornea; and konos cone) is a degenerative disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than its normal gradual curve. Grossly the eye is more ‘cone’ shaped rather than the usual football or rugby ball shape.
Keratoconus can cause substantial distortion of vision, with multiple images, streaking and sensitivity to light. If afflicting both eyes, the deterioration in vision can affect the patient’s ability to drive a car or read normal print.
It is typically diagnosed in the adolescent years and attains its most severe state by the age of 30 (although this is variable).
Keratoconus affects around one person in a thousand. It seems to occur in populations throughout the world, although it is observed more frequently in certain ethnic groups, such as Asians. Environmental and genetic factors are considered possible causes, but the exact cause is uncertain. It is more common in patients with asthma, eczema and hayfever.
What are the treatments for keratoconus?
Some cases of keratoconus are mild and only result in the need for glasses. However, in most eyes the condition progresses and the cornea bows forward in an irregular manner. This irregular bowing of the cornea means that glasses or normal soft contact lenses are unable to give clear vision and such individuals may then require hard contact lenses in order to see. These hard lenses help the majority with keratoconus.
Can the progression of keratoconus be stopped?
Yes. Cross-linking (also known as CXL, CCR, CCL and KXL) is a surgical treatment for keratoconus.
What is the procedure?
The 2 types of cross linking are epithelium on or epithelium off. At Cathedral Eye Clinic, we prefer epithelium off as we have had excellent results with this and do not want to take the chance of the treatment not working because the epithelium is on.
What are the possible risks and complications?
A slight, superficial haziness of the cornea has been seen in some patient in the first few weeks after treatment. This is transient and disappears by 6-8 weeks. It does not permanently impair vision.
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