Ask someone what keratoconus is, and chances are they won’t know. Although this eye disorder affects about one in every 2,000 people, it’s not something that springs to mind in connection with blurry vision.
But keratoconus can lead to significant issues due to its progressive nature. Awareness, along with routine eye exams, can help eye care providers catch the condition early and keep it in check using a treatment known as cross-linking.
Q: What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a progressive ocular disorder that affects the cornea, the clear, round front part of the eyeball, causing it to thin and bulge into a cone shape. The cornea in its normal state is shaped like a basketball; with keratoconus, it becomes progressively steeper, like a pyramid. Swelling can develop as well as permanent corneal scarring. It usually starts in puberty and continues to worsen through early adulthood.
Q:How Do I Know if I (or My Child) Has It?
Increasingly blurry vision is the leading symptom, along with distorted vision and heightened sensitivity to light. In getting glasses checked, increasing amounts of astigmatism and even nearsightedness are demonstrated as the condition progresses.
Often, people don’t realize they have a problem until they can no longer achieve good vision with glasses or contacts. This is one reason getting routine eye exams is important, as the sooner keratoconus can be diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated. Being aware of the signs can also prevent worsening of the condition: the top risk factor is rubbing your eyes, which causes biomechanical trauma to the cornea.
Q: What is Cross-Linking and How Does It Help?
Cross-linking is a procedure that strengthens the bonds in the cornea by “cross-linking” collagen fibers. Approved by the FDA in 2016, the process involves the application of riboflavin (B2) and UV light and is performed by trained corneal specialists. While there is no cure for keratoconus, cross-linking can prevent the condition from worsening.
Dr. Nichelle Warren is a board- certified, highly respected, fellowship-trained ophthalmologist who specializes in cataract, refractive and corneal surgery. Dr. Warren received further sub-specialty training in Cornea and Refractive Surgery from Emory University. She also has experience in vision correction surgery, complex cataract and corneal diseases.
Georgia Eye Partners • www.gaeyepartners.com • 404.531.9988