Understanding Keratoconus – Causes and Treatments
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Understanding Keratoconus – Causes and Treatments

Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that causes a series of vision problems. The disorder happens when the small protein fibers (collagen) that make up your cornea weaken, causing it to lose its smooth ball shape and take on a cone appearance. This distortion in the cornea causes irregular astigmatism and makes lasik eye surgery harder to focus your eyes, so you may need to wear contact lenses or glasses more frequently. Eventually, the disorder can lead to blurred or distorted vision and even halos around lights at night. It’s most common in people of Asian descent, but it can affect anyone at any age.

What is the best treatment for keratoconus?

The cause of keratoconus is not fully understood. However, it seems to run in families. The condition can also be associated with certain underlying disorders, including Down syndrome, sleep apnea, asthma and some connective tissue disorders like Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos. It’s also more likely to occur if you have allergies or rub your eyes a lot.

Symptoms of keratoconus often start in your late teens or early twenties. The disease usually progresses until you reach middle adulthood, but your symptoms can stabilise at any time. In some cases, your vision will seem to fluctuate over a period of months, which can lead to frequent changes in your contact lens prescription. Some people with keratoconus develop fine stress lines within the cornea called Vogt’s striae, which are caused by the stretching and thinning of your cornea.

There are a few treatments for keratoconus. Eyeglasses and soft contact lenses can help in the early stages of the disorder. In more advanced cases, you might need hard contact lenses or a corneal transplant to restore your sight. A new treatment called collagen cross-linking is a way to stiffen the cornea and stop it from getting thinner, which can prevent further vision loss.

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