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What is Keratoconus? in Greater Houston

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A close-up image of someone's eye with keratoconus present.

When it comes to your eye health, it is crucial to understand the conditions and diseases that can affect your vision. Keratoconus is one such condition that can affect your cornea and lead to vision impairment if left untreated.

Keratoconus occurs when the cornea thins and weakens, causing the shape of the cornea to bulge outward. The shape of your cornea can affect how light enters your eye and alter your visual acuity. However, there are treatment options for keratoconus, such as scleral contact lenses, that you can explore during an eye exam and contact lens evaluation.

Understanding Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a progressive disease that weakens the cornea, causing it to gradually change shape and become thin, resulting in distorted vision. Your cornea is the clear layer that covers the front of your eye, and its shape is crucial for clear vision.

When your cornea becomes thin and cone-shaped, you may experience refractive errors, making it difficult to see clearly. Keratoconus can change your vision in 2 ways:

  • As your cornea shapes into a cone, you may experience irregular astigmatism, which typically can’t be corrected with standard glasses.
  • As your cornea becomes more steep, myopia can worsen, requiring an updated prescription more frequently.

In many cases, keratoconus affects both eyes, but it can also occur in one eye.

What Are the Causes of Keratoconus?

While the exact causes of keratoconus are unknown, research suggests that it can be hereditary and may also be linked to environmental factors, such as:

  • Excessive eye rubbing
  • Chronic eye irritation
  • Exposure to UV rays

Other factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing keratoconus include allergies and connective tissue disorders, including Marfan syndrome.

A graphic showing a comparison of a normal cornea and one with keratoconus. Keratoconus causes the cornea to change shape and stick out more.

What Are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?

The symptoms of keratoconus usually start to appear during a person’s late teens to early 20s and can worsen over time. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Frequent changes in vision prescription
  • Eye strain or fatigue
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses

In advanced stages of the condition, patients may experience corneal scarring, which can cause significant vision impairment.

What Are the Treatment Options for Keratoconus?

There is no cure for keratoconus, but it can be managed with proper treatment. The treatment options for keratoconus depend on the severity of the condition and may include eyeglasses, soft contact lenses, or specialty contact lenses, such as scleral lenses.

In the initial stages of the condition, eyeglasses or soft contact lenses may provide adequate vision correction. In more advanced cases, rigid-gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses and scleral lenses are often recommended to provide clear vision.

Scleral Lenses for Keratoconus

Scleral lenses are specialized contact lenses designed to rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye, and vault over the cornea. They sit on the sclera and create a tear-filled chamber that can provide a smooth surface for light to enter the eye. 

Because of their design, scleral lenses can provide clear vision for people with keratoconus and help improve their quality of life.

What Are the Benefits of Scleral Lenses?

Scleral lenses offer various benefits for people affected by keratoconus, including support for clear vision, a design created for comfort, and reduced glare and halos. Additionally, scleral lenses can work without agitating or touching the cornea, making them a preferred option over regular contact lenses for those with keratoconus.

Those with dry eye syndrome, other corneal dystrophies, or post-corneal surgeries can experience more comfortable, sharp vision correction with scleral lenses too. 

Getting Fitted for Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses are custom-fit to your eye, and the process involves a detailed mapping of the cornea and sclera to provide the right fit. Getting fitted for scleral lenses may involve using specialized equipment, such as corneal topography and tomography devices, to precisely measure your eye’s shape and dimensions.

When you visit us for a fitting, we may also consider other factors to determine the right fit for your needs, such as your lifestyle and activity level. Once your lenses are custom-made, we can provide guidance on how to insert, remove, and care for them.

The Right Lenses Can Make a Difference

Keratoconus can be challenging to manage, but scleral lenses can provide a promising solution that can support your vision and your quality of life.

Book an appointment at Evolutionary Eye Care to learn more about scleral lenses, corneal health, and how we can help you manage keratoconus. We have three locations in the Houston area: Webster, Sugar Land, and Downtown Houston.

Written by Evolutionary Eye Care

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