Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that occurs when the cornea, which is usually dome-shaped, thins and bulges outward. The condition significantly impacts quality of vision, meaning vision correction is a necessity in most cases. However, correcting vision can be challenging with keratoconus and requires a tailored approach. This is why the experts at Laser Eye Center of Miami offer several options for treating keratoconus. These safe and effective solutions are designed to improve vision and quality of life for keratoconus patients.
Stages of Keratoconus
Keratoconus advances at varying rates, depending on the patient. It can also progress differently in each eye. Cases in which keratoconus develops early are associated with a more rapid progression of the condition.
Early keratoconus: Early-stage keratoconus comes with a slight impact on vision. Glasses and soft contact lenses are typically useful in correcting vision at this stage.
Moderate keratoconus: Patients may begin to notice corneal changes at this stage. Vision quality starts to decrease, even with glasses.
Advanced keratoconus: In advanced keratoconus, corneal scarring appears, and the conical shape of the cornea becomes more obvious.
Severe keratoconus: Quality of vision is severely degraded at this stage, which is also characterized by scarring and thinning of the cornea. Patients may not be able to tolerate contact lenses, due to the irregular shape of the cornea.
Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to patients with keratoconus.
Specialized Contact Lenses
As the cornea becomes more cone-shaped, glasses and soft contact lenses become ineffective at providing substantial vision correction. Certain contact lenses can help patients see more clearly with advanced-stage keratoconus, including:
Rigid gas-permeable lenses: These contact lenses can be customized to the unique shape of the protruding cornea. Additionally, they are easy to place, remove, and maintain, making this a viable option for many patients.
Scleral lenses: The large diameter of the scleral lens provides coverage to the entire cornea, resting on the sclera.
Corneal Collagen Crosslinking Corneal Transplant
Corneal crosslinking is an advanced therapy that is effective at slowing or completely inhibiting the effects of keratoconus by treating the weakened cornea. During this procedure, one of our experts will first administer vitamin B eye drops into the eye before shining a special light onto the cornea. This combination makes it possible for new collagen cross-links to develop, resulting in a stronger cornea.
Intracorneal Ring Segments
Intracorneal rings are small plastic half-disks that are placed into the cornea to help flatten its irregular shape caused by keratoconus. These devices do not stop the progression of keratoconus but may make it easier for patients to better tolerate vision-correcting contact lenses. Other treatments are needed to stabilize the cornea.
When other treatments have been ineffective, keratoconus patients may be eligible for a corneal transplant. During this procedure, the existing cornea is removed and a donor cornea is securely placed. After corneal transplant surgery, glasses or contact lenses will likely still be needed to achieve crisp vision.
For more information about keratoconus treatment options or to schedule a consultation, contact our office or fill out the online form.