November 10, 2019 is World Keratoconus Day, and Hill Vision Services is dedicated to raising awareness about this sight-threatening disease. We’re proud to play a role, on this day and every day, in educating and advocating for those who are living with keratoconus.
Keratoconus is a condition of the eye in which an area of the cornea becomes thin and weakened. Pressure from inside the eye pushes the cornea outward and into a cone shape. People with keratoconus can experience significant vision loss, and if left untreated, may need a cornea transplant.
In the United States, about 55 out of every 100,000 people are living with keratoconus. That means about 200,000 people are struggling with the disease.
Hill Vision Services is one of the few eye care practices in the St. Louis area to use medication and technology FDA-approved for use in the treatment of keratoconus. We specialize in KXL corneal crosslinking, which has been proven safe and effective in halting the advancement of keratoconus.
Facts About Keratoconus:
Keratoconus Affects both Genders.
Keratoconus occurs in both men and women. In one study, women with keratoconus are found to be diagnosed at an older age than men who are diagnosed with the disease; women are more likely to have a family history of keratoconus than their male counterparts; and women with keratoconus are more likely than men to be non-white.
The Disease is Found among All Ethnic Groups.
It appears that no ethnic group is immune from keratoconus, but there is a slightly higher incidence among people with an Asian background.
Keratoconus First Appears in the Late Teens.
Though it can go undiagnosed for years—even decades—keratoconus symptoms typically first appear in the late teens or early 20s. Symptoms may occur in one or both eyes, and they can progress for 10 to 20 years before slowing or stabilizing.
Symptoms of Keratoconus
Most people with keratoconus confuse their symptoms with normal vision problems experienced by millions of people. Slight blurring of vision, vision distortion, and sensitivity to light are the earliest signs.
A trained ophthalmologist using today’s technology can identify the characteristic topographical differences in the corneal surface in keratoconus. This is one of many reasons why regular eye exams are important.
Management of Keratoconus
There are several options for managing keratoconus, depending on how early it is discovered and how severe the conditionis. These options include:
Glasses or soft contacts
If keratoconus is mild and stable, it can be managed with glasses or soft astigmatism-correcting contact lenses. Special soft contact lenses, developed for the treatment of keratoconus, may also be an option for some people. These lenses typically offer vision correction, but they cannot keep the cone formation from advancing in progressive keratoconus.
Gas Permeable Lenses
Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses, made from durable material that allows oxygen to pass through, can also be used to correct the visual distortion from keratoconus. RGP contacts, like soft contacts, however, cannot stop or slow keratoconus from advancing.
Intacs are tiny corneal implants inserted below the surface of the cornea. They offer a form of vision correction by flattening the central surface of the cornea. Much the same way that contact lenses can help improve vision, Intacs can be helpful in keratoconus, but they cannot stop the progression of the disease.
Corneal crosslinking is the only treatment that can halt or slow the progression of keratoconus. Crosslinking is a procedure in which ultraviolet (UV) light is combined with the vitamin riboflavin to create a solid support structure for the cornea. Dr. Geoffrey Hill at Hill Vision Services is among only a few cornea specialists in St. Louis who use the crosslinking procedure and products specifically approved by the FDA for treatment of keratoconus. The FDA approved version of crosslinking is often abbreviated as KXL.
Corneal Transplant Surgery
When keratoconus advances to the point that the cornea has become dangerously thin, or when vision can no longer be corrected due to scarring or intolerance to lenses, a corneal transplant may be the only option.
Regular screening for keratoconus and other eye health issues should be part of your annual health routine. Contact Hill Vision Services in our three St. Louis-area locations to schedule an appointment today!
Join us on World Keratoconus Day—and every day—in creating awareness!
#WorldKCDay #KCConfidence #LivingWithKC