Monday, October 25, 2010

Kerataconous

Kerataconous is the thinning and the subsequent development of a dome shaped cornea. The cornea is the clear lens that covers the pupil and iris of the eye. For reasons that are not fully understood this gently curved surface can become dome shaped.

The purpose of the cornea is to focus light on the retina that is located in the back of the eyeball. As the cornea becomes dome shaped, the area of focus on the retina changes. Vision then becomes blurred and images are no longer distinct.

Kerataconous is usually diagnosed during puberty until the late teenaged years. The dome will usually increase in size for about 10 years and then stop growing. Nothing can be done to stop the progression of kerataconous. Kerataconous will decrease visual acuity dramatically as the cornea becomes more misshaped.

Initially the condition may be helped by glasses or soft contact lenses. However, as the dome shape a progress, the best vision acuity is obtained when the patient is fit with rigid gas permeable (RPG) lenses. Both eyes may be affected but not always to the same degree. Severe cases of kerataconous may require surgery.

If you are diagnosed with kerataconous, it is important to go to an eye care professional that has experience with treating this condition. This is a progressive condition that will require a change from soft contacts or glasses to rigid gas permeable lenses over time. Your eye care professional will need to be ever vigilant to your changing cornea shape to make the appropriate changes.

It takes a skilled practitioner to get the right fit of the RGP lens over the cone shaped cornea. You will need to expect to make a couple of trips back to your eye care professional to have the initial fit checked and the prescription fine tuned. Regular eye exams will need to become part of your routine for the rest of your life. But that really isn̢۪t any different from anyone who doesn̢۪t have kerataconous.

The symptoms of kerataconous can be easily dismissed at first, which is why yearly eye exams are so important. Headaches that are caused by eye strain, blurry or distorted vision, and increased sensitivity to bright lights are a few of the common symptoms. Patients can also have real issues with glare from lights.

Some patients find out they have kerataconous when they are being examined for LASIK surgery because their glasses or soft contact lens have become ineffective. Unfortunately, at this time LASIK surgery is not advised for patients that have kerataconous.

The cause of kerataconous is not known. Patients that frequently, vigorously rub their eyes are more prone to develop the condition. It has also been occasionally known to run in families, although generally someone will develop kerataconous without any family history.

Ill fitting rigid contact lenses may predispose you to developing kerataconous. It is so important to keep your yearly eye exam appointments. Even if your eyes feel fine, there are several conditions that your eye care professional can catch before it becomes an issue. Familial retinal diseases may also put you in a higher risk group of developing kerataconous.

Catching kerataconous early and then following up with the treatment plan is absolutely essential. If left untreated, kerataconous can cause scar tissue to form at the point of the cone. This scar tissue will have a devastating effect on visual acuity. The only reliable treatment at that point is surgical corneal transplantation.

Kerataconous is a manageable eye condition. If left untreated vision can become very poor. If treated early by an eye care professional that is experienced with kerataconous, visual acuity can be optimized. Early treatment is key is maintaining excellent vision. Your eye care professional will also keep you abreast of any new treatment options that may become available.

Fouad Melamed, O.D. is a Los Angeles area Eye Doctor. He frequently writes about issues realted to eye health, eye disease, and eye care. You can reach him at 323.655.6582, melamedeyecare@gmail.com or @melamedeyecare on Twitter. Join his Facebook Fan Page at http://ping.fm/vG3XZ

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