Treatment option to prevent vision loss and corneal damage from keratoconus

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 3:27 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory eye condition in which the typically round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins and weakens causing the development of a cone-like bulge and optical irregularity of the cornea. This causes blurring and distorting of vision and increased sensitivity to light. It’s estimated to affect about 1 in 2,000 people, but with varying degrees of severity.

Keratoconus typically appears in individuals who are in their late teens or early 20s, can be heredity and affects people with Down syndrome. It may progress for 10-20 years and then slow or stabilize, but by then may have caused significant vision loss. The cornea is responsible for focusing the light on the retina enabling us to see. Therefore abnormalities of the cornea can have a major impact on simple tasks like driving or reading.

In the early stages glasses and then Contact lenses, including special “keratoconus lenses,” act as a new refractive surface to help improve the visual acuity of the patient by “masking” the cone shape of the cornea.  A proper contact lens fit is essential for good vision and to maintain proper corneal health.

Contact lenses can greatly improve the visual acuity of the typical keratoconus patient.  However, keratoconus can advance to the point that either significant astigmatism or severe scarring diminishes the patient’s ability to wear contact lenses and/or limits the visual acuity. Now, an outpatient procedure called iLinkTM corneal cross-linking (KXL) is available. It’s a minimally invasive outpatient procedure, FDA-approved for progressive keratoconus that helps prevent or delay the need for a corneal transplant.