Exploring Your Options for Keratoconus Treatments

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Posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2016 by Dr. Robert Mack

The cornea of the eye normally has the appearance of a dome. However, some patients develop a cone-shaped cornea. This condition, known as keratoconus, thins the corneal tissue and creates a bulge that results in visual distortion. Fortunately, keratoconus near Hoffman Estates is not a common problem. For patients who do develop keratoconus, ophthalmologists can recommend treatment options. These options vary, depending on the stage of the condition and severity of the symptoms.

Mild Keratoconus

Patients with mild keratoconus can benefit from soft contact lenses or eyeglasses to correct visual distortions. Custom soft contact lenses are available that are designed specifically for keratoconus patients. It’s recommended that patients schedule regular eye exams at intervals recommended by their ophthalmologists. The eye doctor can evaluate the progression of the condition and adjust the treatment plan as needed.

Moderate Keratoconus

As the condition progresses, eyeglasses and soft contact lenses may no longer be sufficient. Patients with moderate keratoconus may be good candidates for rigid contact lenses. Rigid lenses, or gas permeable lenses, provide a uniform refracting surface to correct vision. Since rigid contact lenses are less comfortable than soft lenses, an ophthalmologist may sometimes recommend the “piggybacking” technique. The patient will first apply a soft contact lens and then a rigid lens over the soft lens on the same eye. The soft contact lens increases the patient’s comfort level, while the rigid lens provides for better vision correction. Patients may require several follow-up visits to the ophthalmologist to ensure the proper fit and prescription for the lenses.

Advanced Keratoconus

Few patients with keratoconus require more aggressive treatment. However, when the condition has advanced to the point at which corrective lenses are no longer sufficient, ophthalmologists may recommend a corneal transplant. During this procedure, the ophthalmologist carefully removes the damaged layer of cells from the cornea and implants a donor cornea. Another option involves corneal inserts known as Intacs. The ophthalmologist surgically places these tiny inserts just under the surface of the eye. Intacs help reshape the cornea to correct vision. These inserts may delay the need for corneal transplants.