Posted on: 11/1/23

Keratoconus Surgery

The eye is a delicate and complex organ, and even small changes to its structure can cause vision changes. One such condition is keratoconus, where the cornea gets thinner and starts to bulge outward into a cone-like shape. 

Keratoconus can cause vision changes, but there are treatments available to stop or reverse the changes. Keep reading to learn more about keratoconus, including whether or not you can treat it!

What Is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is an eye condition that affects the cornea. The cornea is the clear tissue at the front of the eye. 

Usually, the cornea is dome-shaped. With keratoconus, the cornea becomes thinner and bulges outward.

The new shape resembles a cone. The changes to the shape of the cornea create vision changes.

 Some of the symptoms of keratoconus include: 

  • Blurred vision or distorted vision.
  • New or increasing sensitivity to bright light and glare
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions
  • New or worsening clouding of vision
  • Contact lenses not fitting or falling out

The symptoms of keratoconus may develop slowly, getting worse over a period of years. It typically affects both eyes, but symptoms may be more noticeable in one eye. 

What Are the Causes of Keratoconus?

Experts aren’t certain what causes keratoconus, but genetics may play a role. About ten percent of people who develop the condition have a parent or close family who also has keratoconus. 

If you have an underlying health condition such as retinitis pigmentosa, Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan syndrome, hay fever, and asthma, you may be at higher risk for developing keratoconus. 

What is the Treatment for Keratoconus?

In the early stages of keratoconus, glasses or soft contact lenses may be effective at correcting vision issues. Over time, if the shape of the cornea continues to change, you may need to use rigid or gas-permeable contact lenses. 

Eventually, glasses and contacts may not be enough to correct vision issues. 

Corneal Cross Linking

A non-invasive treatment called corneal cross-linking, or CXL, can strengthen and stabilize the cornea. CXL won’t return the cornea to its original shape, but it can prevent further changes. 

CXL may reduce the need for corneal surgery in the future. CXL is an outpatient treatment for keratoconus. 

Your eye doctor places drops of riboflavin, which is vitamin B2, on your cornea and then exposes the drops to ultraviolet light. As the cornea absorbs the drops, the ultraviolet light triggers your eye to make new collagen, which makes the cornea stronger. 

Corneal Implants

For some cases of keratoconus, corneal implant surgery is the best treatment. This is a procedure to place a thin, ring-shaped insert under the surface of the cornea. 

The ring stabilizes the cornea and gently changes its shape to improve vision. Implants are removable and can be changed if necessary. 

Corneal Transplant

In advanced cases of keratoconus, a cornea transplant may be the best option for improving vision. This is a procedure to remove corneal tissue and replace it with tissue from a donor. 

There are several types of corneal transplant surgery. PK, or Penetrating Keratoplasty, is a full-thickness cornea transplant.

Your eye doctor will remove a disc of the full thickness of the cornea. This is replaced with a donor tissue. 

There are two options for partial thickness corneal transplant: Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK) and Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK). 

Both replace the inner layers of the cornea rather than replacing the entire cornea. These procedures have an easier recovery than traditional corneal transplants. 

There is also a lower risk of complications like rejection of the donor tissue. 

Do you think you may be experiencing vision changes related to keratoconus? Schedule an appointment at Cutarelli Vision in Colorado Springs, CO, today! We can help you decide on the right treatment to improve your vision.