Keratoconus is a degenerative non-inflammatory eye disease that may contribute to astigmatism. Structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than its normal gradual curve, similar to more severe stages of astigmatism. Keratoconus can cause substantial distortion of vision, with multiple images, streaking and sensitivity to light all often reported by the patient. Keratoconus is the most common dystrophy of the cornea, affecting around one person in a thousand, and it seems to occur in populations throughout the world, although some ethnic groups experience a greater prevalence than others. It is typically diagnosed in the patient's adolescent years and attains its most severe state in the twenties and thirties.
Keratoconus is a disease that is not completely understood with an uncertain cause, and its progression following diagnosis is unpredictable. If affecting both eyes, the accompanying blurred vision can affect the patient's ability to drive a car or read normal print. In most cases, corrective lenses are effective enough to allow the patient to continue to drive legally and likewise function normally. Further progression of the eye disease may require surgery including transplantation of the cornea. Despite its uncertainties, keratoconus eye disease can be successfully managed with a variety of clinical and surgical techniques, and often with little or no impairment to the patient's quality of life.
People with early keratoconus eye disease typically notice minor blurred vision vision and come to their clinician seeking corrective lenses for reading or driving. At early stages, the symptoms of keratoconus may be no different from those of any other refractive defect of the eye or astigmatism. As the eye disease progresses, vision deteriorates, sometimes rapidly. Visual acuity becomes impaired at all distances, and night vision is often quite poor. Some individuals have vision in one eye that is markedly worse than that in the other eye. Some develop photophobia (being sensitive to light), eye strain from squinting in order to read, or itching in the eye. There is however normally little or no sensation of pain.
The classic symptom of keratoconus eye disease is the perception of multiple 'ghost' images, known as monocular polyopia. This effect is most clearly seen with a high contrast field, such as a point of light on a dark background. Instead of seeing just one point, a person with keratoconus sees many images of the point, spread out in a chaotic pattern. This pattern does not typically change from day to day, but over time it often takes on new forms. Patients also commonly notice streaking and flaring distortion around light sources.
Visit www.intacsforkeratoconus.com for information on treatment or contact Kelly Eye Center at 919-282-1100.