The cause is unknown, but keratoconus is seen to have a genetic component, which means you inherit it from a parent. New Zealand has one of the highest proportional numbers of keratoconus in the world. It is more prevalent in Maori and Pacific Island males.
The cornea is the transparent front surface of the eye. In keratoconus, the cornea becomes thinned, distorted and irregular (cone-shaped). This abnormal shape prevents the light entering your eye from being focused correctly on the retina and causes distortion of vision.
It also has a link to allergic conditions such as atopic eczema and eye rubbing. The condition usually happens in the late teens to early twenties; however, it can be present at any age. It is a progressive disorder and can happen rapidly or take years to develop. It commonly affects both eyes, although sometimes only one eye is affected.
If you are concerned that you might have keratoconus, it is important to see your optometrist for an eye examination.
Treatment of keratoconus depends on its severity. Generally, the management and treatment options for keratoconus can be divided into three categories:
Glasses or soft contact lenses
Custom Made Rigid Contact Lenses (RGP)
In moderate to severe cases of keratoconus, the cornea becomes abnormal in shape that glasses won’t provide clear vision. In these cases, a rigid contact lens is required to provide a new regular optical surface to correct vision. These lenses are custom-made to the shape of the cornea. Often, where vision can’t be improved with spectacles, contact lenses are funded by subsidy. Rigid contact lenses are the most common form of correction for keratoconus.
In progressive keratoconus, corneal collagen cross-linking is now available. This works by stabilising the cornea and preventing progression. In severe cases, when vision does not improve with glasses or contact lenses, surgery in the form of a corneal transplant may be recommended. Surgery is performed by an opthlamologist, usually in the hospital system. We can discuss this option with you, and refer as necessary.
A contact lens subsidy may be available, which will assist with the costs of contact lens fitting and lenses. This subsidy also contributes to replacement lenses due to loss, damage, or change.
Contact us to find out more about how we can help you from diagnosis to treatment of keratoconus.