Keratoconus occurs when the cornea thins out and progressively bulges outward. As the cornea becomes more conical, it impedes light from reaching the retina in a normal manner. This impediment results in distorted vision like nearsightedness and astigmatism.
Over the years, the doctors at TRES VISION Group have followed the scientific and medical advancements in keratoconus treatment. In this blog, our team looks back at some of the earliest treatments before discussing some of the newer options.
For over a century, the medical community did not have a solution for stopping, let alone curing, the progression of keratoconus. All treatments of the condition focused on mitigating the visual impairments caused by the misshapen cornea.
Most commonly, contact lenses were used to overcome a patient’s myopia. Once the eye started bulging too much for normal contacts to fit, the patient would switch to scleral lenses. Scleral lenses are rigid, gas permeable and made extra wide so that they rest on the white part of the eye (the sclera) rather than on the cornea itself.
Eventually, keratoconus would progress to the extent that no lens could overcome the vision distortion. At that point, a cornea transplant (AKA keratoplasty) would be necessary. (This surgery involves replacing part of the cornea with donor corneal tissue. Recovery from this surgery is substantial, as is the risks of complications.)
Advancements in Treatment
In the past couple decades however, there have been rapid advancements when it comes to treating keratoconus. The most popular treatment is corneal cross-linking (CXL). Here, the ophthalmologist puts medicated eyedrops with riboflavin (vitamin B2) into the eye. Once the drops have soaked in, the patient lies beneath a powerful ultraviolet light that strengthens the collagen fibers in the eye. Although this treatment does not reverse keratoconus, it is highly effective at stopping or slowing the condition’s progression.
A second advancement is Intacs, which is a form of corneal implant. Intacs are clear arcs put into the cornea to reshape and flatten its shape for improved vision. Doctors may recommend both Intacs and corneal cross-linking for best results.
For many patients, particularly when the condition is diagnosed and treated early, these newer treatments are successful at preventing the need for cornea transplant. However, cornea transplant does still remain an option for patients when the condition progresses to the point of severe bulging and vision impairment.
Discuss Keratoconus with Our Eye Team
The good news is that a keratoconus diagnosis is not nearly as bleak as it was in the past. If you have keratoconus, these easy and safe treatment options are a good way to maintain your vision and slow the condition’s progression. Please call TRES VISION Group at (321) 984-3200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment with our expert doctors.