Keratoconus is a disorder of the cornea that leads to progressive changes in its shape and structure. Over time, the cornea becomes increasingly thinner and steeper. These changes result in the formation of high levels of irregular astigmatism and myopia.
Cross-sectional view of a normal cornea, note the round nature of the cornea, which is symmetric in each direction.
Cross-sectional view of a cornea displaying classic keratoconus changes. The cornea is bowed in a cone shape and the tissue has become thinned out.
As the cornea becomes increasingly thinner, it can lead to corneal edema (swelling) and bullous keratopathy (corneal blisters). Ultimately, when the swelling subsides, the cornea is left permanently scarred.
Incidence & Cause
In the general population it occurs in approximately 1 in 2,500 people. At this time the exact cause of Keratoconus is not fully understood, but it has been suggestive to be multifactorial in nature. It has been associated with a genetic predisposition, chronic allergic conjunctivitis, eye rubbing, and an abnormal formation of collagen, the major structural component of the cornea.
The mainstay treatment for Keratoconus has been aimed at correction of high levels of refractive errors (astigmatism and myopia) that cause poor vision. In the earlier stages of the disease, one’s vision can be corrected with glasses or specialty contact lenses. Unfortunately, as the cone progresses these options become incapable of correcting one’s vision. In the past surgical treatment for this disease had centered upon intrastromal corneal ring segments (INTACS) and corneal transplantation as the only option for improvement of vision.
Fortunately, now there is a treatment aimed at halting the progression of the disease in the earliest stages. This treatment is known as collagen cross-linking. As of April 2016, the FDA approved the Avedro, Collagen Cross-Linking device. This FDA approved treatment is safe, easy, and offered here at Vision NYC.