Keratoconus, the disease...
Keratoconus is a disease that creates a thinning of the cornea or the clear front surface of the eye. Normal outward pressure within the eye causes the cornea to progressively bulge into a cone-like shape. The change in the cornea's shape can have a dramatic impact on one's vision. In more severe cases, normal everyday activities such as driving and reading can be difficult to perform. Although keratoconus rarely results in total blindness, 20% of all patients will at some time need to undergo a corneal transplant, according to medical experts.
For keratoconus patients who are contact lens intolerant, there is now a revolutionary new procedure available, Intacs prescription inserts. Intacs provide a new option to improve both corrected and uncorrected vision, and may defer the need for a corneal transplant.
Nobody knows the cause of keratoconus. There is evidence that the disease has genetic origins possibly made worse by environmental factors. It normally affects both eyes although it typically progresses at different rates. In most people keratoconus begins during their teen years and slowly worsens before stabilizing in their 30s or 40s.
Keratoconus is estimated to affect one in 2,000 people across all races. It is normally treated with rigid contact lenses to reshape and flatten the pronounced curve of the bulging cornea and to improve vision. A proper lens fit is crucial to obtain adequate vision and wearing comfort. Poorly fitting or outdated contact lenses can be uncomfortable and lead to additional complications like corneal abrasions, scarring or infection.
In a minority of cases, corneal transplant surgery is required. Ablative vision correction surgery such as PRK or Lasik is normally not an option for those with keratoconus due to an unacceptably high risk of poor outcomes. Usually keratoconic corneas are thin and weak. Removing tissue with a laser will thin and weaken an already weak cornea.
The goal of the Intacs procedure is to provide the keratoconic patient with the ability to achieve improved functional vision with contact lenses or glasses and in some cases without them. In the few patients that later required a cornea transplant, after having the Intacs procedure, their transplants were completed without complication following removal of Intacs.
Intacs may provide an effective option to improve one's vision prior to considering a cornea transplant. Intacs were originally designed and FDA approved to correct mild nearsightedness. Through the collaboration between physicians and Addition Technology, Intacs have emerged as a new therapy for treating patients with keratoconus.
Your eye doctor is the best person to consult with regarding whether this new and exciting option for treating keratoconus is right for you if you suffer from impaired vision due to keratoconus.