New Hope for Those with Weakened Corneas

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Do you rub your eyes when you wake up in the morning? Do you find yourself rubbing your eyes throughout the day? Most of us catch ourselves rubbing our eyes more frequently than we realize. Yet, rubbing your eyes can not only expose your eyes to the harmful bacteria that is on your hands, but it can also actually distort the shape of your cornea entirely. Eventually, this can develop into a condition known as keratoconus.

Keratoconus is an eye disorder which causes the cornea to change from a normal spherical shape into more of a cone shape. Light passes through the cornea and is reflected onto the retina at one focal point. In an eye affected by keratoconus, however, the cone-shaped cornea does not reflect the light onto one focused spot on the retina, thus making the images you see become blurred and distorted. You may also experience eye strain, headaches, irritation, and may become more sensitive to light.

Although there are a variety of causes of keratoconus, including being genetically predisposed, some of these causes are created through what we experience as we live our daily lives. Aside from rubbing your eyes, the development of keratoconus has been linked to poorly fitted contact lenses, untreated allergies, and oxidative stress. While it is always important to identify the cause of the disease or irritation, treating it is just as important.

There is hope, however, for those with weakened corneas. Keratoconus can be treated over time by wearing adjusted contact lenses, yet there is no guarantee when your vision will be reinstated. Surgical solutions may have higher success rates when treating the disease. Some of these treatments include:

  • Corneal Cross-linking- This is a minimally invasive procedure that applies a solution to the eye, which helps strengthen the fiber links that make up the cornea. The procedure cannot reform your cornea back into its preferred shape, but it can help prevent the cornea from becoming even more misshapen. This is important for a patient with keratoconus, because it can eliminate the need for a corneal transplant in the future.
  • Intacs- Intacs are ring-shaped, thin prescription inserts that are about the size of the very tip of your pointer finger. When inserted into the eye, this ring flattens your cornea, which changes its structure into a more natural shape. This allows the light that passes through your cornea to improve its focus onto your retina.
  • Corneal Transplant- A corneal transplant involves the removal of your original cornea, which is then replaced with the healthy cornea of a donor. The procedure itself is rather strenuous, as after the procedure is finished, you will need to slowly work your way back into your normal routine and work life. Although the success rate is high, complications can occur, such as your eye rejecting the new cornea. Thankfully, only about 15% of patients who suffer from keratoconus will ever need to consider a corneal transplant.

It is important to communicate your symptoms with your physician to identify whether or not you may be suffering from keratoconus. We encourage you to come in for a consultation with one of our physicians.