Keratoconus is an eye condition affecting the cornea. It results in an irregular “cone-shaped” cornea causing blurred vision, with the cornea tending to thin with the progression of this condition. Keratoconus generally is a painless condition, although it can cause ocular discomfort and irritation.
There is no known definite cause of keratoconus, although possible causes have been linked to genetics, a collagen deficiency, and overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays or excessive eye rubbing.
Keratoconus is a progressive condition that worsens over time and often begins to develop in the early teenage years, although it is common for keratoconus to eventually stabilise often around the age of 30. Maori and Pacific Island communities appear to have a slightly higher than average occurrence.
The signs and symptoms of keratoconus may include:
Distorted and blurred vision
Headaches due to eye strain
Rigid Gas-permeable Contact Lenses – If glasses or soft contact lenses are not effective, then the use of a rigid lens is applied over the cornea to improve vision and to replace the irregular cornea shape and provide a smooth corneal surface.
Collagen Cross-Linking with Riboflavin – a relatively new treatment for keratoconus which strengthens the cornea to slow or halt the progression of keratoconus. This procedure involves painlessly removing some of the corneal surface (the epithelium) and applying riboflavin (Vitamin B2). Ultraviolet light is then applied to the cornea and a soft contact lens is applied during the initial healing phase and drops are used to help with healing and comfort. This is now available at the Rotorua Eye Clinic.
Corneal Transplant Surgery - Surgery is needed for patients with advanced keratoconus, where other therapies no longer provide clear vision. In corneal transplant surgery, most of the cornea is removed and then replaced with a new donor cornea.