You may be familiar with the idea that in eyes that are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism, a mis-shapen cornea causes or contributes to the problem. In those cases, the cornea is still rounded — it is just slightly “too round” or “not round enough.”
In keratoconus, the cornea actually becomes cone-shaped, which creates a different kind of effect on your vision. When it first starts it may seem like simple nearsightedness and can be corrected with normal lenses. However as the condition advances, your vision becomes more distorted, beyond the ability of normal corrective lenses. In addition, you can start to get ghosting or glaring, which no regular corrective lenses can correct. (Want more info? Visit “What is Keratoconus?”)
What can someone with keratoconus do? How do you treat keratoconus? Here are a few simple solutions:
- There are rigid gas permeable contact lenses that provide a greater degree of correction and can address the change in shape caused by keratoconus.
- Another option are hybrid lenses. These have a hard center area to address the unusual shape of the cornea, but are surrounded by a soft contact lens “skirt” that reduces the discomfort and can provide for a longer term wear.
- There are also options for custom contact lenses or special lenses called “scleral contact lenses” that actually extend out to the sclera, or white, of the eye. Your keratoconus doctor can discuss these options with you.
- Another solution may be a new product known as ClearKone contacts. These are a special contact lens designed for patients with keratoconus. They are worn like standard contact lenses, resolve vision and ghosting problems, and avoid risky surgeries. An experienced keratoconus doctor can help you understand your options and if ClearKone contacts are the right answer for you.
If those keratoconus contact lens treatments do not help, then you and your doctor might choose keratoconus surgery.Surgical solutions include standard laser surgery if the keratoconus is not very advanced. In more advanced cases, surgical correction through reshaping runs a risk of scarring. A better option in that case is either a donut-shaped corneal insert or a cornea transplant. Both of these are fairly high-risk surgeries.
Another newer option is a procedure called “collagen cross-linking” which is a treatment that “firms up” the substance the cornea is made of, to reduce the ongoing deformation caused by keratoconus.
There are several treatments for keratoconus. The one that is right for you depends greatly on how severe your condition is. The most important part of your decision, though, may not be what keratoconus treatment to choose, but which keratoconus doctor you want to trust with the decisions about your eyes.
Dr. Barry Leonard has been treating keratoconus soon after he discovered he had keratoconus himself. That’s right. He’s a patient, too. Not many eye doctors are properly trained to treat keratoconus, but patients from both inside and outside of California have travelled just to be seen by Dr. Leonard.