Refractive errors such as nearsightedness and astigmatism are quite common, even in combination; in most cases they can be corrected easily through eyeglasses or soft contacts. But sometimes a deformation of the cornea produces nearsightedness and/or astigmatism that cannot be managed through normal corrective measures. This is true of the condition known as keratoconus, an unusual "cone-shaped" malformation caused by thin or weak corneal tissues. If you suffer from keratoconus, don't despair -- here at Southwest Orlando Eye Care, we can provide accurate diagnosis of keratoconus and optometrist care for the condition.
Keratoconus tends to make its first appearance in your teens or early 20s. It is believed that enzyme imbalances in the cornea make it more vulnerable to oxidate damage that can weaken the tissues. (Chronic eye rubbing, UV exposure, ill-fitting contact lenses and a family history of the disorder may increase also your risk for getting it.) As the cornea weakens, it has more trouble maintaining a normal curvature and starts to bulge outward into a cone-like shape. Since the cornea plays a crucial role in refracting incoming light for use by the retina, this causes significant visual distortions in the form of nearsightedness and astigmatism. Severe keratoconus can also cause occasional cracks in the cornea itself, producing sudden and disturbing vision changes until the damage heals.
Our optometry center in Orlando can confirm a diagnosis of keratoconus through a combination of eye exam techniques such as slit lamp examination, keratometry and digital corneal mapping. In its early stages, our optometrist can correct for keratoconus with ordinary eyeglasses or soft contacts. Over time, however, the condition may worsen to the point that these routine treatments no longer correct your vision adequately. Fortunately, several other types of corrective lenses can help you see as clearly as possible. These include:
RGP (rigid gas-permeable) contact lenses - RGP lenses can succeed with keratoconus where soft contacts fail because they hold their shape. This allows them to compensate for the oddities in your corneal curvature.
Scleral or semi-scleral contacts - These contact lenses cover a larger portion of your eye than ordinary contacts, to the point that they rest on the sclera (the white of the eye) instead of the cornea. This provides excellent vision correction.
Hybrid or "piggyback" lenses - Some rigid contact lenses have a soft outer rim for extra comfort. Keratoconus patients can also try "piggybacking" an RGP lens on top of a soft lens for the best combination of visual accuracy and comfort.
Severe keratoconus may respond to surgical intervention. Techniques include corneal cross-linking (inserting riboflavin to strengthen the corneal tissue), Intacts (inserts that reshape the corneas) and even corneal transplantation. We can refer to a skilled eye surgeon for such procedures while providing expert pre-operative and post-operative co-management.
Do not let keratoconus deprive you of your eyesight. Call (407) 271-8931 to schedule the necessary diagnosis and treatment at Southwest Orlando Eye Care today! Our friendly staff and optometrist looks forward to meeting you.