I’m known as “the Keratoconus doctor” because I have treated thousands of patients for Keratoconus, I am on the cutting edge of treatment research for Keratoconus, and because I actually have Keratoconus, just like my patients. If you think you have Keratoconus, or have a new diagnosis, or have been frustrated with your previous Keratoconus treatment, this collection of frequently asked questions about Keratoconus may help you understand KC better. If after reading this you still have questions, contact me or make an appointment.
Keratoconus (pronounced KEHR-uh-toh-KOH-nus) is a progressive eye disease that turns your normally round cornea into a bulging cone shape. The cornea is an important part of the eye that is responsible for two main things:
In people with Keratoconus, the light bends in unusual ways depending on what part of the bulging cornea the light passes through.
Keratoconus has many symptoms, including…
If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment for a Keratoconus Screening exam.
Keratoconus affects your vision which can degrade your quality of life. Individuals with this disease may find it hard to work, read, watch TV, and drive. It can also stress, lower your confidence, make you unable to enjoy those important moments in life, reduce your ability to take part in recreational sports, and affect your personality.
Keratoconus is a lot more common than people think. In the past, it was predicted that 1 in 2,000 people had it, while today that number has drastically increased to 1 in 400. The reason for this increase is that more people are properly diagnosed due to advances in technology, awareness, and Optometrists like myself who have dedicated themselves to helping individuals overcome this condition.
There is no firm consensus in the medical community about the causes of Keratoconus. However, we do know that it develops when the collagen protein fibers in the eye weaken. When collagen in the eye weakens, it can cause the cornea to lose its shape. (Think back to your days on a playground when a rubber ball became lopsided with a bulge on one side.)
One cause of this weakness could be due to free radicals in your eyes. Every day, your corneas produce harmful by-products known as free radicals. Antioxidants in your eyes typically get rid of these free radicals, but individuals with Keratoconus don’t produce enough antioxidants to fight off the free radicals. As collagen levels decrease, the corneas lose their strength and start to bulge.
The weakness can also be caused by frequent rubbing of the eyes. There may be a genetic component as well, since those with KC in their family are more likely to also have the condition.
LASIK or RK eye surgery can cause Keratoconus for certain individuals. Because the LASIK and RK procedures involve operating on the cornea, they can result in Corneal Ectasia. While the LASIK screening process is more efficient today, many individuals who received the surgery in the past may develop Keratoconus.
Keratoconus comes in a variety of forms. Depending on your symptoms, you may be experiencing one of the following forms of this disease:
There are several methods available for diagnosing Keratoconus. These methods include:
Which of these methods you require will depend on the resources available to your Keratoconus doctor and how advanced your Keratoconus is.
An Optometrist can assesses the severity of Keratoconus by determining how steep your cones are, how thin your corneas are, and their shape.
Depending on the type of Keratoconus you have, we would treat your Keratoconus with one of the following…
While every eye is different, there is no single “best” keratoconus treatment. But I’ve seen the greatest successes with moderate to severe cases of Keratoconus with Scleral Contact Lenses.
I’ve spent the better part of my career developing effective solutions for patients with Keratoconus. The Eaglet Eye Surface Profiler is a tool that I can use to measure your entire cornea and much of the white part of your eye, called the Sclera. This level of accuracy allows me to create a pair of Scleral contact lenses that completely vaults over your cornea and gently rests on your sclera, resulting in a more comfortable Keratoconus contact lens that helps you see more clearly. It’s the state of the art for more severe cases of Keratoconus, and what I wear every day.
Like most diseases, early detection is crucial when it comes to Keratoconus. If your Keratoconus is progressing, you may need to receive the Corneal Crosslinking treatment to stop the progression. Studies have shown it to be 98% effective.
Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that can worsen with age. Progressive Keratoconus can be halted using the CXL or C3R (corneal cross-linking) procedure. If you have Keratoconus, it’s highly recommended that you monitor it to keep track of its progression by visiting a Keratoconus specialist regularly.
Kerataconus doesn’t always affect both eyes equally. Some patients may experience stronger symptoms in one eye. While corneal cross-linking can halt Keratoconus, it isn’t always necessary to have this procedure performed on both eyes. In cases where a single eye is more affected, corneal cross-linking may be performed on the affected eye while the other one is monitored over time.
Keratoconus doesn’t always cause eye pain. However, its symptoms can cause discomfort and other problems. The most common symptoms of Keratoconus include astigmatism, degrading vision quality, and corneal thinning, bulging, or rounding. Some individuals may experience corneal scarring and find themselves unable to use contact lenses. These individuals may require a corneal transplant to correct this problem.
If you have Keratoconus and experience sudden pain in your eyes, you should consult with your Keratoconus specialist immediately.
Keratoconus is a lifelong eye disease that does not go away on its own. In severe cases a corneal graft might be needed, but that does not eliminate Keratoconus. Individuals with less severe Kerataconus can reduce its effects using specialized contact lenses (hard, piggyback, hybrid, or scleral). Scleral lenses are a unique type of contact lens that rests on the white part of your eye (the sclera) and does not sit on the cornea.
Your eyes rely on tears to stay lubricated and to reduce irritation and dryness. Keratoconus can result in dry eyes because of your eyes inability to spread tears over your uneven cornea.
Individuals with Keratoconus may experience dry eye naturally or as a byproduct of wearing contact lenses that further interfere with their eye’s ability to lubricate using tear drops.
Keratoconus is a relatively rare eye disease that few optometrists are trained to diagnose, and even fewer are trained to treat. Dr. Barry Leonard is one of the top Keratoconus Doctors in the country and has been treating patients with KC since he was in optometry school and was diagnosed with his own Keratoconus in the 80’s. If you think you have Keratoconus, make an appointment with Dr. Leonard for a Keratoconus Screening Exam. Call our office at 818-891-6711 or make an appointment online.