"No LASIK or PRK for me....I just found out that I have Keratoconus." - Cathy Brandon
Have you been turned away from LASIK or PRK because the doctor diagnosed you with keratoconus? Many people have and think that they would never be free of contacts or glasses. Unfortunately they are unaware that there are treatments for keratoconus as well as options to correct myopia that maybe better than LASIK or PRK for their eyes.
What's Keratoconus Anyway?
According to WebMD, keratoconus is a condition of the eye in which the structure of the cornea (the clear outer part of the eye) is not strong enough to hold its round shape, causing it to bulge outwards like a cone.
Often, this condition is hereditary and occurs more frequently in people with certain medical problems. Progression of the outward corneal bulging can happen very quickly or can occur over several years, though these changes can stop at any time.
How Will Keratoconus Affect My Vision?
Keratoconus will change vision in two ways:
- Irregular astigmatism results as the smooth surface of the cornea becomes slightly wavy
- Nearsightedness develops as the front of the cornea expands
- Sudden change of vision in just one eye
- Double vision in just one eye
- Bright lights with halos around them
- Light streaking
- Seeing triple ghost images
Why Can't I Have LASIK?
For those with keratoconus who wanted to be free of their glasses or contact lenses, it is probably disheartening to find out that LASIK or PRK can be very dangerous for even a small degree of keratoconus.
The reason is that these two procedure remove tissue from the cornea in order to reshape it to the desired curvature which would further weaken the structural integrity of the cornea and worsen the progression of keratoconus.
How is Keratoconus Treated?
- Corneal transplant (keratoplasty) - this involves removing the center of the cornea and replacing it with a donor cornea that is stitched into place.
- Corneal inserts (intacs or intracorneal ring segments) - this involves inserting two tiny, clear, crescent shaped plastic inserts to flatten the cone shape of the cornea.
- Collagen Cross-Linking - riboflavin drops are applied to the cornea and exposed to the UVA light. The procedure strengthens the cornea to prevent further thinning or bulging.
How is the Nearsightedness Caused by Keratoconus Treated?
- Eyeglasses - for mild cases, eyeglasses can usually make vision clear again.
- Contact lenses - rigid gas permeable contact lenses help mask the underlying irregular cornea. However, overtime, the eyes may grow to be contact lens intolerant.
- Implantable Lenses - Visian ICL, a flexible gel-like lens which is surgically implanted into the eye, has been used by surgeons to correct moderate to severe myopia once the keratoconus has been stablized. This is a great option for those who were turned away from LASIK or PRK since no eye tissue removal is necessary during the Visian ICL procedure. Olympic gold medalist Steve Holcomb got the Visian ICLs after his keratoconus was stablized using the collagen cross-linking method.
For those who have are looking for freedom from glasses and contacts, contact a qualified Visian ICL doctor today to learn about your options!