What is keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a disease that creates a thinning of the cornea or the clear front surface of the eye. Normal outward pressure within the eye causes the cornea to progressively bulge into a cone-like shape. The change in the cornea’s shape can have a dramatic impact on one’s vision. In more severe cases, normal everyday activities such as driving and reading can be difficult to perform. Although keratoconus rarely results in total blindness, 20% of all patients will at some time need to undergo a corneal transplant, according to medical experts.
Who gets keratoconus?
Researchers estimate that keratoconus affects 1 in 2000 people. The disease affects men and women alike and there are no known differences between races. Although the cause of the disease is unknown, research
has suggested that genetics, allergies and other environmental factors
may contribute to the onset of the disease.
How can it be treated?
Typically, an eye care professional will treat early stage keratoconus with contact lenses or glasses addressing the early vision correction needs of the patient. In later stages, rigid gas permeable contact lenses are often recommended. These lenses are used to improve one’s vision and to brace the bulge in the cornea. In advanced cases, where the patient can no longer achieve adequate functional vision with contact lenses, corneal transplant surgery may be necessary.
Due to the onset and progression of keratoconus, the weakened cornea looses its natural dome-like shape. As a result, the light rays entering the eye are no longer focused properly, impairing one’s ability to see images clearly. Intacs are specially designed inserts, made of medical plastic, which are surgically placed under the surface of the cornea. Due to their unique patented design, Intacs are able to remodel the architecture of the cornea re-establishing a more natural dome-like shape and improving one’s vision.