Understanding Keratoconus: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Understanding Keratoconus: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Understanding Keratoconus: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Understanding Keratoconus: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Keratoconus is a progressive eye disorder that affects the cornea, the transparent front part of the eye. In this condition, the normally round cornea becomes thin and irregularly shaped, causing distorted vision. As the cornea bulges outward, it takes on a cone-like shape, hence the name "keratoconus," which is derived from the Greek words "kerato" meaning cornea and "conus" meaning cone.

What Causes Keratoconus?

The exact cause of keratoconus is not fully understood, but researchers believe it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Here are some potential causes:

  • Genetics: Keratoconus tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition. If one of your parents or siblings has the condition, your risk increases.
  • Oxidative Stress: Oxidative stress, caused by an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, may contribute to the weakening and thinning of the cornea.
  • Environmental Factors: Certain environmental factors, such as excessive eye rubbing, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and chronic eye inflammation, have been linked to the development of keratoconus.
  • Underlying Conditions: Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as Down syndrome, Marfan syndrome, or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, have a higher risk of developing keratoconus.

Identifying the Symptoms of Keratoconus

The symptoms of keratoconus can vary from person to person and may progress gradually over time. Here are some common signs and symptoms to watch out for:

  • Blurred or Distorted Vision: As the cornea becomes irregularly shaped, it can cause vision to appear blurred or distorted, making it difficult to see clearly.
  • Sensitivity to Light and Glare: Individuals with keratoconus may experience increased sensitivity to bright lights and glare, which can be uncomfortable and further impair vision.
  • Double Vision or Ghost Images: In some cases, the irregular shape of the cornea can cause double vision or the appearance of ghost images, especially in low-light conditions.
  • Eye Strain and Headaches: The constant struggle to focus and see clearly can lead to eye strain and frequent headaches.
  • Frequent Changes in Eyeglass or Contact Lens Prescription: As the condition progresses, you may notice that your eyeglass or contact lens prescription needs to be updated more frequently to compensate for the changes in your vision.

The Process of Diagnosing Keratoconus

Diagnosing keratoconus typically involves a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist. Here are some of the tests and procedures that may be performed:

  • Visual Acuity Test: This test measures your ability to see clearly at various distances, providing an initial assessment of your vision.
  • Slit-Lamp Examination: During this examination, your eye care professional will use a specialized microscope called a slit lamp to closely examine the structure and shape of your cornea.
  • Corneal Topography: This non-invasive imaging technique creates a detailed map of the surface curvature of your cornea, allowing for the detection of any irregularities or thinning.
  • Pachymetry: This test measures the thickness of your cornea, which can help diagnose keratoconus or monitor its progression.
  • Keratometry: This test measures the curvature of your cornea, which can reveal any irregularities associated with keratoconus.
  • Refraction Test: This test determines the appropriate lens prescription to correct any refractive errors caused by the irregular corneal shape.

Navigating Keratoconus with Help of Clarity Eyecare

Keratoconus can be a challenging condition, but with proper understanding, early diagnosis, and appropriate treatment, you can manage its impact on your vision and quality of life. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Your optometrist is your trusted partner, guiding you through the process and providing the necessary support.

If you suspect you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of keratoconus, schedule an appointment with our experienced optometrist. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of the condition and preserve your vision for years to come. Visit Clarity Eyecare in Birmingham, Waterford, Sylvan Lake, South Lyon, Walled Lake, and Commerce Twp., Michigan. Call (248) 369-3300, (248) 698-2000, (248) 682-6448, (248) 437-3351, (248) 624-1707, or (248) 366-8600 to book an appointment today.

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