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Unlike common conditions like glaucoma and cataracts, keratoconus is an eye condition most people don't know exists until they're told that they may have it. It first presents itself with the seemingly innocuous symptom of blurry vision, so the typical response is to go to optometrists in Las Vegas to get new glasses or contacts. Further investigation, done with a comprehensive eye exam, then reveals the keratoconus.
Keratoconus is a disease that involves the thinning of the cornea. The thin cornea isn't able to properly hold its shape, so it develops an irregular cone shape. This distorts the light coming into the eye so that there is no longer a single focal point on or near the retina. Instead, there are multiple points. The technical name for the visual condition this causes is irregular astigmatism.
This condition can affect anyone, but it tends to arise in those in their teens and early 20s. A review of insurance claims, done by the University of Michigan, showed that certain groups of people more than others. Men, Latinos, African Americans are especially at risk. Certain conditions also increase the risk of keratoconus. These include asthma, Down syndrome, and sleep apnea. While an annual eye exam is a good idea for everyone, people in these groups should be especially careful to have them done.
Blurry vision is the most notable symptom of this condition. There are several treatment options available, and your doctor will recommend those that fit the severity of the condition at the present time. These include corneal cross-linking, a variety of special contact lenses, Intacs, and corneal replacement.
Corneal cross-linking is a procedure that involves infusing the cornea with riboflavin, a B vitamin. This strengthens the cornea and helps it resist distortion.
Specialized contact lenses, ranging from soft toric lenses to hard gas-permeable ones, are used to cover the irregular surface of the cornea with a smooth one that refracts light more properly. While these are technically feasible long into the progression of the condition, wearing them with advanced keratoconus is often too uncomfortable. Once that point is reached, it's time to try less-conservative treatments.
Intacs are implants that are placed inside the eye to help reshape the cornea. They are typically used after contacts become too uncomfortable for use. This can improve corrected vision to the extent of two lines on a standard eye test chart.
Corneal replacement is exactly what its name implies. The defective corneas are replaced, typically with new artificial ones. Corrective lenses are often still required when the procedure is done for keratoconus.
If you have blurry vision, Drs. Kopolow and Girisgen urge you to get a comprehensive eye exam right away so that the proper treatment can be prescribed. Chances are good that you just need glasses, but if it turns out that you have keratoconus, getting early treatment will improve your chances of success with conservative treatments like special contact lenses.