Keratoconus (Greek. Κέρας - “horn” and κῶνος - “cone”) is a degenerative non-inflammatory eye disease in which the cornea becomes thinner and takes a conical shape. Keratoconus can lead to severe visual impairment. Most often, patients complain of photophobia, double vision, blurred images. The disease is the most common form of corneal dystrophy. Keratoconus affects around one in a thousand, regardless of nationality and place of residence. The diagnosis typically occurs in adolescence, and the most serious stage of the disease reaches 20 or 30 years..

Until now, keratoconus remains an underexplored disease, the causes of its occurrence are unknown, and the path of the disease after diagnosis can not be predicted either. With keratoconus developing in both eyes, a person can lose the ability to drive a car and even read texts written in a traditional-size font. Keratoconus almost rarely leads to full blindness and in most situations, vision with contact lenses can be greatly improved. If the disease progresses to a more serious level, this will include surgery. Remaining a mystery to doctors, keratoconus is no longer a problem for patients as serious as it was before the development of treatment methods, contact correction and the emergence of microsurgery.

Why does it appear?

In around 25 per cent of cases, keratoconus is inherited from parents to children. In other cases, the disease appears sporadically and is associated with complex hereditary roots that are currently under investigation.

Skin allergies or excessive rubbing of the eyes are also correlated with the occurrence of keratoconus.

The key symptom is vision loss and a sudden onset or rise in astigmatism.

Astigmatism is typically caused by a corneal refractory defect that, unlike myopia and farsightedness, does not develop naturally with age.

Therefore, it is very important that a patient with a sharp increase in refractive error (especially in children and young people) undergo a complete topographic examination to exclude the presence of keratoconus.

Depending on the stage of the disease, the following treatment methods are distinguished:

  • Patients with moderate keratoconus can get glasses to correct their vision.
  • Patients are issued rough contact lenses in a more advanced process to correct abnormal astigmatism.

In some cases, surgery is necessary, for example, implantation of intrastromal rings to correct the cornea or corneal cross-linking (cross-linking of corneal collagen fibers), a very effective procedure that slows the development of keratoconus.

At a more severe stage, when vision is significantly reduced, keratoplasty or corneal transplantation is the only solution. To date, transplantation can be performed, in most cases, by selectively replacing the affected layers of the cornea, while maintaining healthy tissue.

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