A healthy cornea, the clear, dome-shaped surface of your eye, is normally round. Keratoconus causes the corneal tissue to thin and bulge outward into a cone shape. This eye disease can cause progressive nearsightedness, irregular astigmatism, distorted vision, and problems with glare or light sensitivity. Because this is a progressive disease, it will only worsen if you do not seek treatment. Dr. David Masihdas provides effective keratoconus treatment options for patients in the Salt Lake City, UT, area. If you have noticed that your vision is deteriorating rapidly or have a newfound sensitivity to light, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Masihdas.
Causes of Keratoconus
Although the exact cause of keratoconus is unknown, new research suggests that an imbalance of enzymes within the cornea can lead to a weakening of the corneal tissue. As a result of this imbalance, the cornea becomes more vulnerable to the damaging oxidative effects of free radicals within the body. This can cause the cornea to take on a characteristic bulging cone shape. Additionally, keratoconus is more common in patients who excessively rub their eyes, as well as improperly fitting contact lenses, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, chronic eye irritation, and certain retinal conditions.
Keratoconus is known to have a genetic link, so if you have a family history of the condition you have a greater risk for developing it. Patients with certain conditions like Down's syndrome, Leber's congenital amaurosis, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or osteogenesis imperfecta, may also be at a higher risk for developing keratoconus.
If keratoconus is caught early on, eyeglasses or soft contact lenses can help. As the disease progresses and worsens, more extensive treatment may be required to provide adequate vision correction:
- Custom soft contact lenses: These lenses are larger than traditional contacts and are designed to correct moderate keratoconus. They provide greater stability to the eye and are created based upon the patient's unique corneal measurements.
- Gas permeable contact lenses: When keratoconus has progressed past the stage that glasses and soft lenses provide sufficient treatment, gas permeable lenses are often recommended. Because of the rigid design of gas permeable lenses, they can provide a rounded shape by fitting over the irregular cone-shaped cornea.
- "Piggybacking" contact lenses: This treatment approach combines soft lenses and gas permeable lenses for more comfortable correction. Gas permeable lenses can be uncomfortable, but by placing a soft contact lens first, followed by a gas permeable contact over it, the soft lens acts as a cushion for the eye.
- Hybrid contact lenses: Hybrid lenses have an oxygen-permeable center with a soft "skirt" around the periphery for comfort. Many doctors prefer these lenses to piggybacking because they are tied to optimal patient outcomes.
- Scleral lenses: These lenses are larger in diameter than traditional contact lenses and extend to cover portions of the sclera, or white portion of the eye. These larger lenses are designed to minimize pressure on the cone-shaped cornea.
- Corneal inserts: Intacs® are corneal inserts that are surgically placed just below the surface of the eye, where they help to reshape the cornea.
If more conservative treatment options fail to provide sufficient relief, corneal transplant may be recommended as a last resort.
Schedule a Keratoconus Consultation
Dr. Masihdas is at the forefront of treatment innovations for keratoconus and other eye conditions. If you have a family history of keratoconus or have noticed any troubling symptoms, please contact us to make an appointment at our office.