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New Treatment for Keratoconus Patients

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is non-inflammatory progressive thinning disorder of the cornea. The cornea, the smooth clear surface on the front of the eye where contact lenses rest on, is typically spherical or round in a normal cornea. With keratoconus, often abbreviated KC, the cornea becomes thin and starts to protrude outward taking on a cone shape. This causes the light to scatter when entering the eye. Typically patients with keratoconus see better through custom contact lenses than they will through eye glasses. The contact lens creates a new surface for the light to bend on. Contacts for keratoconus may be a soft lens, a hybrid contact lens or custom rigid gas permeable contact lenses. Our Vision Source doctors, Dr. Beckwith Dr. Lee and Dr. Nagel all fit keratoconus patients for custom contact lenses.

What are the symptoms of Keratoconus?

Keratoconus patients may experience the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Shadowed images or double vision that don’t go away when covering one eye
  • Glare and halos around lights when at night when driving
  • Headaches
  • Eye Strain

How is Keratoconus diagnosed?

Keratoconus can be diagnosed by your eye doctor. Dr. Beckwith, Dr. Lee or Dr. Nagel may order a test called a topography reading. This scan shows the steep points and the flat points on your cornea. It is a scan that our doctors at Vision Source perform on all contact lens patients in our office. It is a painless test that requires the patient to look at a set of lighted rings for a few seconds that then takes a reading of the shape of the cornea. Below you will see a normal topography map and that of a cornea with keratoconus. The warmer the color the steeper the cornea is. Can you see the steep area in red?


Corneal Collagen Cross-linking Procedure

A new procedure called corneal collagen cross-linking, is currently in the last phases of FDA approval here in the US. This procedure has been used effectively for years in Europe for the treatment to stop the progression of the corneal thinning disorder called keratoconus. While the procedure doesn’t reverse the keratoconus it goal is to stop the progression of the corneal thinning to prevent further distortion to the vision. This will help protect the cornea from getting too thin possibly preventing the need for a corneal transplant.

During the procedure riboflavin,vitamin A drops, are applied to the cornea which are then activated by UV light. This helps to strengthen the collagen fibers in the cornea.  Patients will still need to wear their corrective lenses, glasses or contacts to provide the best vision possible after the procedure. Several testing centers around the country are currently conducing the last phases of the FDA trial for the cross-linking procedure.  You can find a list of centers around the US here. Because the corneal cross-linking procedure is not yet FDA approved the procedure is not covered by insurance. To learn and read more on corneal collagen cross-linking and about Keratoconus visit the National Keratoconus Foundation.

If you or a loved one has keratoconus or thinks they may have keratoconus, please feel free to share this article or book an appointment with one of our Vision Source doctors today for a comprehensive eye exam. Give us a call today at 702-254-3558 or request an appointment on our website.