Keratoconus is an eye disorder which is uncommon, occurring rarely. Studies and reported cases reveal that the ratio of occurrence of the disorder is 2000:1, i.e. one person being affected in 2000 people. Though, so uncommon the disorder is, regular causes to the disorder remain unknown. Factors or a combination of factors, like genetics, environment, and hormones are believed to trigger this eye disorder.
So, what exactly is keratoconus?
Keratoconus often put in short as KC, is a disorder that affects the cornea of our eyes, making it thinner and thinner gradually. The word ‘keratoconus’ is a combination of Greek word ‘keras’, which means cornea and Latin word ‘conus’, which means cone. Hence the literal meaning comes out cornea that is cone shaped. Cornea of the eye gets affected in such a way that it protrudes outwards in form of a cone and that becomes extremely thin. This later, results in blurred or double vision, high sensitivity towards light, astigmatism and also short-sightedness. A person with keratoconus eye may experience troubled vision, swelling and other symptoms in early teen years or in late 20s. It progresses for about a decade or two and then slows down, but by this time, it has already done a lot of damage to the cornea. Various other eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, vernal keratoconjunctivitis and retinopathy of prematurity etc. are also believed to promote the disease. Usage of hard or rough contact lens for a very long time, probably years, can also lead to keratoconus. The medication that is available for the momentary and immediate relief is eye drops that helps ease irritation or itching but there is no prevention for the disorder.
Keratoconus does take its toll on both the eyes usually, but may affect different eye, differently. Rapid deterioration in vision with the progression of disease creates difficulties for a person in carrying out regular activities like reading, driving, watching television, etc.
Keratoconus treatment usually depends on glasses and soft contact lenses in the primary stages. The diagnosis of the disorder through an ophthalmologist usually starts with checking of some medical ocular history or family history of ocular disease. Later slit lamp procedure is used for accurate diagnosis of the disease. Other tests include keratometry, computerised corneal mapping and corneal topography.
There is an availability of a varied number of keratoconus treatments in India. Corneal transplant, collagen cross-linking, Intacs, DALK (Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty) are few options available. Collagen cross-linking is however, is not approved by FDA. There is yet another method available for keratoconus treatment in India, i.e. oxygenation of cornea which focuses on strengthening of cornea and prevents oxidation process that could disrupt the corneal tissue. Attempt to correct the disease through LASIK laser is highly discouraged.
Apart from all the keratoconus treatment and cure that is available, it is recommended that an individual should always focus on good diet and ocular hygiene. This would always help eye muscles and corneal tissue to heal the damage and reverse it to some extent.