What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease in which the round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape that causes the person to have distorted vision, hence known as the conical cornea. It is a rare disease that can strike people from the earliest age of ten and upward. There are only 200,000 known cases per year in the United States. That is a lot! So, we need to be informed about this disease so we can protect our precious eyes. After all, they are the tools to see this beautiful world.
The Symptoms For Early Detection
Knowing the signs that something is wrong is vital for early detection. The early symptoms are blurry vision, increased sensitivity to bright lights and glaring surfaces, double vision, cloudy vision, headaches, halos, difficulty with night vision, and the frequent need to have your prescription eyeglasses changed. Another serious symptom is the acceleration of Myopia (shortsightedness), which can lead to blindness. More advanced symptoms are the change in eye shape. The eye looks as if it is protruding outward. The cone-like shape is more apparent by a normal glance. Once you notice any signs of this disease, please check your family history to see if anyone had this disease in the past.
The Treatment For Keratoconus
A computerized corneal mapping will help decide the course of treatment. The range of treatment can go from the simplistic, wearing corrective eyeglasses of special rigid gas permeable contact lenses. The extreme treatment is a procedure called corneal collagen cross-linking or CXL to strengthen the corneal tissue.
Researchers determine that the weakening of the corneal tissues due to an imbalance of enzymes within the cornea is the leading cause of the disease. They also believe that overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, excessive rubbing of the eye, chronic eye irritation, and poorly fitted contact lenses can start the on-sight of the disease.
There are two methods of corneal cross-linking: epithelium-off and epithelium-on. Epithelium-off cross-linking is where the outer layer of the corneal removed to allow riboflavin, a type of vitamin B, is activated when UV is administered. Epithelium-on is where the corneal is left in contact during the treatment, and this method is less invasive, less risk of infection, less discomfort, and one-day visual recovery.
How to Protect Your Eyes
Knowing how to keep your eyes healthy is the best prevention of this disease. The researchers have suggested that you take a daily dose of 2,000 to 4,000 IU supplement of vitamin D. Please check with your doctor before taking any supplement that could interfere with any prescription. The research has shown that vitamin D does slow the progression of the disease in patients who were administered vitamin D.
If you wear contact lenses, make sure that you are cleaning them properly per manufacture requirements and that if they do not fit correctly, you seek help from an eye professional.
The best way to help prevent this disease is to stop rubbing your eyes. Easier said than done. The best way to keep your eyes healthy and not irritated so that you don’t rub them is to keep them hydrated with eye drops. Artificial tears are a non-medicated imitation of tears that will help flush out dirt or debris.
The best protection is to protect your eyes from excessive sunlight since overexposure to sunlight is one of the leading causes of this disease. So make sure that you are wearing sunglasses that block UV rays. You can still enjoy the sunshine without costing you your eyesight. For successful management of this disease, it requires frequent and lifelong eye exams to make sure your cornea remains stable and your visual acuity is maintained.