Keratoconus is a rare corneal disease and unfortunately one of the late diagnosed diseases.
We see through the cornea, which is the clear outer lens or a kind of "windshield" of the eye. A healthy cornea has a dome shape. Tiny fibers of protein (collagen) in the eye help holding the cornea in place. When these fibers become weak, they cannot hold the shape and the cornea becomes progressively more cone shaped. This condition is called Keratoconus. By this the cornea also becomes thinner which builds the basis for bulging even more.
Doctors do not know for sure why people have Keratoconus. In some cases, it appears to be genetic (passed down in families). About 1 out of 10 people with Keratoconus have a parent who has it too. Keratonconus is also associated with eye allergies and excessive eye rubbing. Keratoconus is caused by a decrease in protective antioxidants in the cornea. The cornea cells produce damaging by-products, like exhaust from a car. Normally, antioxidants get rid of them and protect the collagen fibers. If antioxidant levels are low, the collagen weakens and the cornea bulges out.
The changes can stop at any time, or they can continue for decades. There is no way to predict how it will progress. In most people who have keratoconus, both eyes are eventually affected, although not always to the same extent. It usually develops in one eye first and then later in the other eye.
As mentione before Keratoconus is usually not genetic but sometimes runs in families. Keratoconus usually starts in the teenage years. It can, though, begin in childhood or in people up to about age 30. It's possible it can occur in people 40 and older, but that is less common. If you have it and have children, it’s a good idea to have their eyes checked starting at age 10. The condition progresses more rapidly in people with certain medical problems, including certain allergic conditions. It could be related to chronic eye rubbing. Statistics shows: Men are more affected than women and they are mostly farsighted.
Patients complain about blurry and distorted vision, glare and halos at night. For correct diagnosis a Corneal Topography needs to be done. This is a painless examination with a special device which produces within seconds a visual map of the cornea is available.
There are different ways of treatment. Some patients may only need special glasses or contact lens to clear and correct the vision. This is mostly done in the period when the disease's progress stands still and is stable. If a progress is going on and the contact lenses are not able to hold the cornea in place anymore and if the level of this disease is not severe, "Crosslinking with UV Light" surgical treatment is performed to prevent worsening. By this treatment the collagen fibres gets harden. For severe cases a Corneal Transplantation is mandatory.
Crosslinking is recommended and performed by Dr. Mehtap Abay in Talya Medical Center.