Keratoconus (Progressive Cornea Thinning Disorder) – Salt Lake City, Lehi, Utah

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About Keratoconus

Have you noticed a change in your vision that does not seem to be corrected with contacts or glasses? At Waite Vision in Lehi, UT we specialize in the treatment of disease, disorders, and irregular conditions of the cornea. Keratoconus is an ocular condition that thins the cornea and pushes it forward, making the eye a cone-like shape. Your cornea is responsible for clear sight as it refracts and focuses the light. When the cornea is distorted, your vision suffers. External factors, such as aggressive or constant rubbing of the eyes, can cause or contribute to this disorder. However, some of our patients are born with keratoconus with symptoms appearing as early as their late teens and early twenties. For more information about this eye condition or to schedule a consultation with our founder and board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Aaron Waite, we invite you to schedule an appointment at Waite Vision today.

Symptoms

Your regular eye doctor may notice symptoms of keratoconus during an annual eye exam. Or perhaps you have not yet received a diagnosis, but believe that you may be suffering from the condition. The following symptoms are often associated with keratoconus and should be reported to an optometrist or ophthalmologist as soon as possible:

  • Double vision in only one eye
  • Objects both near and far seem blurred or distorted
  • Sudden vision change in only one eye
  • Bright lights appear to have "halos," around them
  • Bright light seems to be streaky
  • Especially blurry night-time vision

Causes

Keratoconus occurs as protective antioxidants in the cornea begin to diminish, leading to the over production of damage-inducing cells that were once depleted by them. As antioxidants levels become low, the collagen in the eyes weakens and the cornea begins to bulge out. The eye condition appears to be genetic and progresses quickly in individuals with certain medical conditions, such as allergies as keratoconus is made worse with chronic eye rubbing.

The condition most commonly begins in the teenage years but can occur as young as the early adolescent years is some individuals. In rare cases, keratoconus can begin in an individual’s early 40s, but this is uncommon.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of keratoconus or have a family history of the condition, Dr. Waite may recommend a series of diagnostic tests to determine the full extent of your vision impairment. Diagnostic tests may include:

Eye refraction  Dr. Waite perform this test by having you look through a device containing different wheels of lenses, which will help judge what gives you the sharpest vision. This test can also be performed using a retinoscope. 
Slit-lamp examination  During this test, Dr. Waite directs a vertical beam of light onto your cornea and measures the reflection, to determine the eye's shape.
Keratometry  This test is performed by focusing a circle of light on your cornea to measure the reflection produced. 
Computerized corneal mapping – This specialized photographic exam records images of your cornea, creating a detailed shape of its surface. This exam also helps determine the thickness of your cornea. 

Treatment Options

There are varying degrees of treatment as the severity of the keratoconus gradually changes the shape of the cornea. Early in treatment, you may notice that glasses or contact lenses correct the problem. However, as you age and the keratoconus worsens your eyesight, Dr. Waite may suggest more aggressive strategies such as receiving a healthy donor cornea transplant to repair your vision. Your treatment options will be discussed in your consultation. At Waite Vision, we may also make recommendations for the following procedures:

  • Corneal cross-linking:
    Corneal cross-linking is a minimally invasive treatment for keratoconus, which involves an application of riboflavin and ultraviolet light to the eye to reinforce the fiber links within the cornea. This is more of a preventative strategy than a corrective one. Patients with an early diagnosis of keratoconus may be able to prevent more aggressive treatments like a transplant surgery if the disorder is discovered in time.
  • Corneal inserts:
    A corneal insert can be surgically implanted to flatten your cornea. This prescription insert is ring-shaped and is about the size of the tip of a finger. An insert will help the cornea maintain a rounder shape and enable light to move through the cornea to promote better vision.
  • Corneal transplant:
    The most aggressive treatment option is the corneal transplant. This surgery is rarely performed for keratoconus patients; however, it is highly successful. Recovery time for a corneal transplant may be lengthy, but the healthy cornea will help you get back to your normal life and improved vision.

Communicate Your Symptoms

While regular eye exams are vital to your eye health, slowing the progression of eye disorders like keratoconus can also be very important to save your eyesight. Our surgical and nonsurgical solutions for keratoconus can provide you with improved visual results. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Aaron Waite, who is well versed in all available corneal treatments, and find the best corneal treatment options for you. We are proud to serve the greater northern Utah region and look forward to exceeding your expectations.

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