Keratoconus is a degenerative condition wherein the collagen fibers in your corneas start to break down. This causes the tissues to thin and as they do, they develop a conical shape. This makes it so that your eye is unable to refract light correctly and you could suffer from several different symptoms. While astigmatism is the most common problem associated with this condition, you could also experience blurred vision and light sensitivity, among others.
The type of keratoconus treatment you receive depends on the severity of your condition and how your eyes respond. There are five different types of contact lenses that can be prescribed, as well as several different keratoconus eye surgeries that can be performed in order to correct and/or prevent the condition from worsening. They are:
- Custom Soft Contact Lenses. They are designed to correct light refraction so that light focuses correctly on the back of your eye. These lenses have a wider diameter than traditional lenses, so they will be a better fit for your cone-shaped cornea.
- Gas permeable (GP) contact lenses. These lenses tend to be rigid so that they can easily span the unusually long shape of your cornea. Additionally, they also allow for better vision in low contrast situations, including dusk, poorly lit environments, and fog. However, some patients do not tolerate wearing gas permeable lenses all the time and are prescribed a combination of rigid and custom soft contacts.
- “Piggybacking” Contact Lenses. This is another option for those that cannot wear gas permeable lenses. It involves using the soft lens as a cushion over your eye while the rigid contact ensures your sharp vision.
- Hybrid contact lenses. These were designed specifically for keratoconus patients. They have a rigid center that allows the contact to clear the conical shape of your eye while at the same time, the soft outer edge increases comfort.
- Scleral and semi-scleral lenses. The outer edge rests the white of your eye. Scleral lenses cover more of this area, while semi-scleral lenses cover only a part of your sclera. These lenses are also more secure than GP lenses and move less when you blink.
- Corneal Cross-Linking. Your eye will be numbed and riboflavin eye drops will be activated with a special ultraviolet light that will strengthen the chemical bonds between collagen fibers. This prevents further changes to the shape of your cornea.
- Intacs are implants that are done through tiny incisions under the top layers of corneal tissue. Once in place, they fortify the cornea and allow them to flatten and resume a normal, rounded shape.
- Corneal transplant. Your cornea is removed and replaced with donor tissue. This is for the most severe cases that have not responded to other treatment options. While you still may need glasses or contacts afterward, you can opt for lasik eye surgery in order to improve your vision further.
As with any medical procedure, it is best to discuss all of your options with a medical professional in order to determine the best course of action for you and your condition.