Keratoconus is part of a family of disorders involving abnormalities in the shape of the cornea, the clear front of the eye. Affecting millions, keratoconus is characterized by an abnormally steep and irregularly shaped cornea, which makes vision blurry. Changes from keratoconus are occasionally mild, but severe disease may cause thinning and scarring along the visual axis.
The symptoms of keratoconus vary with the degree of thinning, astigmatism, and scarring. Early on, patients typically have astigmatism correctable with glasses or soft contacts. As the disease progresses, gas permeable contact lenses may be needed to obtain the best vision. Light sensitivity, sudden pain, and corneal swelling are all common in severe keratoconus. It is important to note that each eye can be affected differently and may stabilize after some time.
If contact lenses cannot adequately compensate for the abnormal keratoconus shape, surgery is usually recommended. Full thickness and partial thickness cornea transplants have been time-tested remedies for keratoconus. By replacing the steep cornea with a sutured donor cornea, a relatively normal curvature can be restored. Newer therapies such as corneal inserts warrant further analysis.
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