Keratoconus is a thinning of the central zone of the cornea (the transparent front surface of the eye), which results in the cornea becoming cone-shaped. Generally keratoconus affects both eyes, although the degree of progression is often unequal between the eyes. Initially the affected individual may notice that their vision is blurry and/or distorted, and this can be corrected with spectacles in the early stages.
Kera is greek for ‘cornea’, and conus is greek for ‘cone’.
Keratoconus typically affects:
Onset can occur between 8 - 45 years old, although the majority of individuals first notice symptoms between 16 and 30 years.
In the early stages keratoconus causes myopia (short-sightedness) and astigmatism, and this can typically be corrected by spectacles. As the condition progresses, the cornea becomes highly irregular and spectacles can no longer adequately correct the vision. At this stage rigid gas permeable contact lenses are required. (Soft contact lenses are typically not an option because they can not correct the irregular astigmatism). There is a New Zealand government subsidy available to help with the cost of these specific contact lenses.
Buchanan Optometrists has a corneal topographer which enables us to map the shape of the cornea and accurately monitor changes to the cornea shape, and also accurately fit any rigid gas permeable contact lenses, if required.
There is no publicly-funded treatment for keratoconus. However, there is a procedure called Corneal Collagen Crosslinking, which essentially makes the cornea tougher and enables it to stay the correct shape. We very much recommend every keratonic person to undergo Collagen Corneal Crosslinking and will refer to an appropriate ophthalmologist if that is required.