Keratoconus treatments

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Patients with keratoconus always have a cone-like cornea, which deflects light on its way to retina. Occurring in one or both eyes, keratoconus may cause vision distortion. As a progressive eye disease, keratoconus develops slowly. Since the cornea continues to thin, nearsightedness or irregular astigmatism may develop at a certain stage of keratoconus progression, bringing distorted and blurry vision. Other symptoms of keratoconus include glare, light sensitivity and changing prescription.

The reason for weakening cornea associated with keratoconus

Weakening and bulging cornea is always caused by an imbalance of enzymes within it, so that people with keratoconus are more susceptible to oxidative damage caused by compounds called free radicals. Oxidative damage may also come from a genetic predisposition, overexposure to UV rays, excessive eye rubbing, chronic eye irritation etc.

Eyewear products for keratoconus treatment

Treatments for keratoconus vary from eyeglasses to corneal transplant, depending on the degree of corneal irregularity. As for the slightest form of keratoconus, ordinary eyeglasses or soft contact lenses are enough. Gas permeable contact lenses can deal with keratoconus that is beyond soft lenses. Their rigid lens material is more competent of replacing an irregular corneal shape. Disadvantages of RGPs are clear that they are sometimes uncomfortable, and their fitting is challenging and time-consuming.

Compound designs offer both clear vision and comfort

A wise way to resolve those disadvantages of RGPs is to take use of a technology named “piggybacking”. This treatment involves two types of contact lenses: a soft lens directly on the cornea and another GP lens over the soft one. The soft lens performs as a cushioning pad and provides more comfort. It is important to take use of lenses with good oxygen permeability. Following a different design, a hybrid contact lens uses a soft peripheral “skirt” on a highly oxygen-permeable GP lens. With a variety of parameters, these contact lenses offer clear vision from GP lens and comfort from soft lens.

Use corneal inserts to slow down keratoconus progression

Patients with abnormal vision functionality may need intacs or corneal inserts to reshape their corneas. Approved by FDA in 2004, these tiny plastic inserts are placed under the eye’s surface in the corneal periphery. Intacs have been reported to improve visual acuity by two lines on a standard eye chart. However, these devices can only delay the progression of keratoconus.

PSLPD relieves keratoconus symptoms

Approved in 1994, Boston Scleral Lens Prosthetic Device (PSLPD) contacts the eye’s sclera, rather than resting over the cornea. PSLPD maintains a “pool” of fluid on eye surface to help in focusing light. The artificial tears over the eye will constantly bathe the cornea and can virtually eliminate eye pain caused by keratoconus. This treatment is also effective in relieving dry eye. The non-profit Boston Foundation for Sight also provides subsidies to low-income patients.

C3-R procedure can enhance corneal tissue links

A non-invasive procedure named C3-R places eye drops containing riboflavin on the cornea, which will be activated by UV light so as to enhance corneal tissue links. This procedure for keratoconus treatment has been proven to be promising and is estimated to reduce the need for corneal transplant.

Corneal transplant is the ultimate solution

Patients with serious keratoconus that is beyond all of the above treatments can resort to a corneal transplant. Also called penetrating keratoplasty, this last remedy replaces your irregular cornea with another healthy cornea. Also called corneal grafting, this surgery is possible only if donated corneal tissue is available.