Skip to main content
Menu

Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a rare, progressive disease that affects the cornea, which is the clear, transparent layer at the front of the eye. The cornea is responsible for focusing the light that comes into your eye onto the retina for clear, sharp vision. Keratoconus causes the corneal tissue to thin out and bulge into a cone-like shape which deflects the light entering the eye and distorts vision.

Causes of Keratoconus

The exact cause of keratoconus is not known. The disease usually starts to appear in the late teens or twenties and can affect one or both eyes, usually progressing at a slow pace and slowing or stabilizing after around 10-20 years. It is believed that there is a genetic component as often it runs in families.

New research suggests that there may be a link between keratoconus and oxidative damage which weakens the cornea. There is also an association with overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and chronic eye irritation.

Symptoms of Keratoconus

With the gradual change in the shape of the cornea, vision becomes progressively worse. The patient may experience nearsightedness, astigmatism, distorted vision (straight lines look wavy), blurry vision, light sensitivity and glare, and eye redness or swelling. Typically, patient’s eyeglass prescription will change often as the vision becomes worse and contact lenses will be difficult to wear due to discomfort and improper fit.

When keratoconus become more severe (which usually takes a long time however on occasion can happen rather quickly), the cornea can begin to swell and form scar tissue. This scar tissue can result in even further visual distortion and blurred vision.

Treatment for Keratoconus

In the early stages of the disease, standard eyeglasses and soft contact lenses will usually correct the nearsightedness and astigmatism experienced by the patient. As the disease progresses however, glasses and soft contact lenses may no longer correct vision and soft lenses may become uncomfortable. This is when other forms of vision correction will be recommended.

Gas Permeable and Scleral Contact Lenses
At the more advanced stage of keratoconus rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses, scleral or semi-scleral lenses may be used for increased comfort and visual acuity. Since they are more rigid, RGP and scleral lenses are able to create a smooth, round shape around the cornea, creating a smoother surface for better vision. Scleral or semi-scleral lenses have a larger diameter which covers the entire cornea and reaches over into the white part of the eye, which is known as the sclera. Many patients find these more comfortable than regular RGPs and find that they move around less when the eyes move. The main disadvantage of these rigid lenses is that for some, they are somewhat less comfortable than soft lenses and they must be continually refit as the shape of the eye changes.

Whether it is glasses or contact lenses being used to correct vision, patients will likely have to undergo many tests and prescription changes as their vision needs change.

Intacs
Intacs are small, surgically implanted plastic inserts which are placed on the cornea to flatten it back to shape. Usually they are able to restore clear vision, with the continued use of glasses. Intacs are often recommended when contact lenses and eyeglasses are no longer able to correct vision adequately. Intacs take about 10 minutes to insert and can delay the need for corneal transplant.

Corneal Crosslinking (CXL)
In corneal crosslinking, a UV light and eye drops are used to strengthen and stiffen the cornea which helps to reduce bulging and restore the cornea to its natural shape.

Corneal Transplant
When corneal scarring occurs and eyeglasses and contact lenses no longer help, doctors may suggest a corneal transplant to replace the corneal with healthy donor tissue to restore vision. Most patients will still require eyeglasses or contact lenses for clear vision following the transplant.

Keratoconus is a condition that requires ongoing treatment by a qualified eye doctor. If you or a loved one suffers from this disease make sure that you find an eye doctor that you like and trust to accompany you on this journey.

Dear valued patient,

We take our commitment to keeping our patients and team safe and healthy inthe midst of this COVID-19 pandemic very seriously. We want to share our plan to comply with social distancing guidelines for your upcoming appointment. Please carefully read the steps below and follow our direction when you arrive. Our team will all be wearing masks and we ask that you bring one with you to wear during your visit (for everyone’s safety, we are requiring staff and patients to wear masks).

We ask patients to complete necessary paperwork online if possible. Click here to access the forms. You may also choose to text a photo of your insurance card and photo ID to the clinic at 763-537-3213.

When you arrive for your appointment, enter the main doors and wait in the front alcove until a staff member greets you. Our front desk team will ask you general health questions to rule out the presence of COVID-19 symptoms.

We are asking that only the patient enter the building for the exam. (Exceptions: Children under 18 may be accompanied by one guardian, and adults with special needs may be accompanied by one caretaker.)

When you enter the building:

Staff will ask you to use hand sanitizer and then you will complete any necessary paperwork that you were not able to complete online, and we will make copies of your insurance card and photo ID if you did not text a picture of them to us.

Prior to seeing your doctor, a technician will escort you to a pre-testing room where you will be asked to wash your hands. We ask that you follow the CDC’s recommendation of washing your hands thoroughly, for a full 20seconds, with soap and water.

Rest assured that every surface and every piece of equipment you come into contact with has been sanitized prior to the arrival of each and every patient entering our practice, and it will be cleaned again as you exit each area.

The team will be frequently washing their hands between interactions as per our usual protocol, and you’ll also see hand sanitizer throughout the practice for your use, as well.

Optical – Shopping for Glasses, Adjustments and Repairs, and Glasses Pick-up

We are scheduling appointments for all optical needs. Please call the clinic at 763-537-3213 to schedule your appointment.

When you are shopping for glasses, one of our ABO certified opticians will ask you to be seated at a station where you will discuss your needs, likes and dislikes. To ensure social distancing, the optician will bring frames to you so you can try them on at the station. The optician will continue to bring frames to you until you find the perfect pair!

We sterilize every frame a patient touches in a UV Cleaning Unit after a shopping appointment so you can be assured any frame you try on has been sanitized prior to your visit.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us. We look forward to seeing you!

Thank you for your patience and cooperation,

Your Crystal Vision Clinic Eye Care Team

x

We sterilize every frame a patient touches in a UV Cleaning Unit after each shopping appointment so you can be assured any frame you try on has been sanitized prior to your visit.