The curvature of the cornea (the clear tissue at the front of your eye) is measured to determine your prescription. Keratoconus is a progressive cornea condition that causes thinning and protrusion of the cornea. This results in irregular astigmatism, fluctuating vision, corneal scarring and prevents you from maximizing your functional vision.
Keratoconus is the most common corneal disease. It occurs in the second decade, affects both genders, all ethnicities and generally will affect both eyes. Due to the progressive nature of the condition, early eye exams and monitoring is recommended. In the general population, it has been estimated that 54 out of 100,000 people have a form of keratoconus.
Management of keratoconus involve treating the disease and improving the vision. Treating the disease include collagen cross-linking, INTACS, and corneal transplants. The Cornea Research Foundation has further information for surgical options.
Improving vision of patients with keratconus is crucial for improved quality of life and includes glasses and contact lenses. Glasses and contact lenses are still needed even with the above surgical procedures as these treatments are intended to delay or halt disease progression. Glasses tend to be difficult due to the fluctuating vision most patients experience. Contact lenses are an excellent option! Many options exist including traditional soft lenses and more custom lenses, the gas permeable lenses (“hard lenses”).
Gas permeable lenses are not just the typical corneal lenses, but include piggy-back, hybrid and scleral lenses. Although not many people know about scleral contact lenses, they are often the lens of choice due to their comfort and quality of vision.
Scleral lenses provide excellent comfort because they sit on the sclera. The sclera compared with the cornea has far fewer nerve endings, which means an increase in comfort when wearing. The scleral lens traps liquid (sterile saline and the natural tears) underneath the lens; this liquid is the key to correct and stabilize the fluctuating vision experience by people with keratoconus.