Keratoconus is a disease that affects your cornea, or the clear “window” of the eye that refracts most of the light entering the eye. As the cornea deteriorates, daily tasks like driving, reading a book or watching television can become more difficult. You may also experience sensitivity to light or other symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life. But with the help of the team at Eye Care of San Diego, you can overcome the effects of keratoconus and attain clearer vision.
A normal, healthy cornea is round, like a basketball. In contrast, a cornea that develops keratoconus thins and bulges, taking on a more conical shape similar to a football. As a result, the cornea cannot properly focus light entering the eye onto the retina and vision may be blurry or distorted.
Keratoconus symptoms tend to occur between a person’s later teenage years and early 20s. In the early stages, keratoconus can cause a mild blurring or distortion of vision, straight lines that look wavy, sensitivity to light, glare, eye redness or swelling. As the disease advances, it can cause increased nearsightedness or astigmatism, and vision can get blurrier and more distorted. Some people find they are no longer able to wear contact lenses comfortably due to the cornea’s distortion.
Doctors do not know exactly what causes keratoconus, but they believe the following factors may contribute to the disease:
- Genetic predisposition
- Overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun
- Excessive eye rubbing
- Poorly fitted contact lenses
- Hormonal changes
Although corneal crosslinking cannot cure keratoconus, it can stop the progression of the disease and stave off or prevent the need for corneal transplant surgery.
This in-office procedure involves applying riboflavin (vitamin B2) drops to the cornea and activating the drops with an ultraviolet light. This combination reinforces the collagen fibers in the cornea to help strengthen it and stop the progressive thinning and bulging associated with keratoconus. Corneal crosslinking can be performed with the epithelium (the outer layer of corneal cells) on or off.
Treating Keratoconus with Intacs
If you have been diagnosed with keratoconus and can no longer achieve the visual clarity you need for daily tasks with glasses or contact lenses, you might be a great candidate for treatment with Intacs.
Intacs are small, curved corneal inserts that our doctors surgically implant in the eye to flatten the cornea and improve the way it focuses light onto the retina. Intacs do not halt the progression of keratoconus. Made from the same material as intraocular lenses (IOLs) used in cataract surgery, Intacs are biocompatible and FDA-approved for safety.
The procedure to place Intacs takes about 15 minutes, and you can return home after the procedure. Your eyes will be completely numbed to prevent discomfort. Our team will pre-select the appropriate Intacs thickness, depending on the level of vision correction you require. After creating a small tunnel between the layers of the corneal tissue, the doctor will implant the crescent-shaped inserts into the tissue.
The recovery from Intacs placement is very short. You should be able to see clearly within a few days of the procedure.
Once the Intacs are implanted, you will not be able to feel them or see them, unless you look very closely into your eyes. Depending on the severity of the keratoconus, you may need to wear glasses or soft contact lenses to see clearly. The Intacs should help make contact lens wear more comfortable.
If you have been diagnosed with keratoconus or you are experiencing troubling visual symptoms, the team at Eye Care of San Diego can help. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation at our practice.