Vision problems are widespread. According to the Vision Council of America, approximately 75 percent of adults in the United States use some sort of vision correction like glasses or contact lenses. More than 600,000 Americans get LASIK every year. However, not all vision problems can be addressed using these methods. This is often the case for patients that suffer from moderate to severe keratoconus. But what, exactly, is keratoconus, and how is it treated?
This blog from board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Richard B. Foulkes breaks down the causes and symptoms of keratoconus. It also explores the treatment options available to you. Dr. Foulkes has decades of experience helping his patients see clearly and rediscover the wonders of good vision. If you suffer from keratoconus, he can help you, too.
What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a condition that occurs when the cornea, the clear front part of your eye that focuses light on the retina, is not strong enough to hold its round shape. Instead, it bulges outward like a cone due to weakened collagen fibers within the cornea. Over time, keratoconus can distort the shape of your cornea. It can also cause corneal scarring and corneal swelling. These abnormalities can, in turn, provoke significant changes in your sight.
In the early stages of the condition, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Mildly blurry vision
- Slight distortions in vision, causing straight lines to look wavy or bent
- Double vision when looking with just one eye
- Eye redness
- Eye swelling
- Increased sensitivity to light and glare
While it usually takes several years for keratoconus to progress to more advanced stages, some individuals experience a more rapid progression. Symptoms of advanced keratoconus include:
- More severely blurred and distorted vision
- Increase in the severity of nearsightedness or astigmatism
- Frequent changes to eyeglass prescriptions
- Inability to wear contact lenses due to a bad or uncomfortable fit
In very severe cases of keratoconus, stretched collagen fibers can lead to severe corneal scarring and, in some instances, a tear in the back of the cornea. This can result in swelling that takes months to subside. The scar tissue on your cornea will also exacerbate any blurry or distorted vision you are experiencing.
Fortunately, Dr. Richard B. Foulkes offers patients that suffer from keratoconus multiple different treatment options, including:
- Intacs®: Intacs® are corneal ring segments made from biomimetic materials that are very similar to your actual corneas. They can halt corneal degradation. Intacs® are implanted on the edge of your corneas in a 15-minute, outpatient, low-risk procedure.
- Corneal cross-linking: Corneal cross-linking is a new, state-of-the-art treatment that includes the application of riboflavin and ultraviolet light to your eyes. This procedure strengthens the collagen fibers within your cornea to help prevent your vision from deteriorating any further, possibly even reversing the effects of keratoconus altogether. Dr. Foulkes will apply riboflavin eye drops, then shine a UV light on your eye for 30 minutes. After this, you'll be free to go.
Schedule Your Chicago Keratoconus Consultation Today
If you suffer from Keratoconus, Dr. Foulkes will meet with you in person to discuss your eye care goals and needs. During your initial consultation and comprehensive eye exam, he will measure the thickness and shape of your cornea to develop your unique treatment plan.
Dr. Foulkes serves Lombard, Naperville, Downers Grove, and nearby areas of Chicago. Call (630) 724-1400 today to schedule a consultation.