3 Things to Know If You’ve Just Been Diagnosed With Keratoconus Submitted by Atlanta Vision Cataract and Laser Center on July 11, 2021

Keratoconus affects the corneal structure, resulting in vision loss. Those diagnosed with keratoconus have many questions about their prognosis and treatment options. The top eye specialists at Atlanta Vision Cataract and Laser Center explain what you should know after a keratoconus diagnosis.

1. Early Stage Treatment

Keratoconus often strikes young adults. A keratoconus diagnosis may come out of the blue since symptoms are mild in the early stages.

When the diagnosis is made in the disease’s early stages, treatment consists of glasses to address nearsightedness and astigmatism. Frequent prescription changes are usually necessary as the shape of the cornea changes.

The patient may have to switch to hard contact lenses from their soft ones. Hard lenses are designed to fit the cornea, but they may feel uncomfortable initially compared to the soft version. For those who cannot tolerate hard lenses, there are alternatives such as piggyback lenses, which place a hard contact lens above a soft one, and hybrid lenses, which are rigid in the middle but soft on the outside.

2. How Can You Stop Progression?  

Keratoconus is neither preventable nor reversible, but there are treatments available to stop its progression. Corneal collagen cross-linking can delay progression. This straightforward, in-office treatment involves applying a vitamin B solution to the eye. That is followed by about 30 minutes of ultraviolet light activation. New collagen bonds are created, which can aid in corneal preservation and stabilization.

It can take three to 12 months after the procedure to stop corneal bulging. 

3. Advanced Stage Treatment 

In the advanced stage, patients may need scleral lenses. These lenses are used when the cornea has assumed an irregular shape. While most lenses rest on the cornea, these lenses are placed on the white portion of the eye (the sclera) to deliberately avoid contact with the cornea.

Severe keratoconus may require surgery. The optimal procedure depends on the site of the bulging cone and the severity level. This may include:

  • Corneal transplant – Also known as a penetrating keratoplasty, this surgery is often recommended for patients with very thin or scarred corneas. The entire thickness of the central cornea is removed and replaced with donor tissue. While generally successful, there is always the risk of complications. In some cases the donor graft is rejected by the body, and there is also the potential for infection.
  • Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK) – In this procedure, the endothelium, the cornea’s inside lining, is preserved. This lowers the risk of rejection that may occur with a penetrating keratoplasty.

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If you have been diagnosed with keratoconus and want to know more about treatment options, contact the dedicated eye care specialists at Atlanta Vision Cataract and Laser Center to schedule a consultation.

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