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Scheduling routine eye exams are the first and crucial step to a lifetime of clear and healthy vision for yourself and your family. These not only determine possible changes in your eyesight but also allow for early diagnosis of any vision disorder that may have developed. In addition, learning about these vision problems can give you an idea of what habits to avoid, and which eyecare essentials to consider. Take keratoconus, for example. It is an eye condition that occurs in approximately one in 2000 individuals and should be detected early to stop, or at least slow down, its progression.

Keratoconus

Excel Eyecare OD PA, the premier LipiFlow® dry eye treatment specialist in the Charlotte, NC area, shares some of the important facts you should know about keratoconus.

  1. Keratoconus primarily affects the cornea. It refers to an eye disease that affects the structure of the cornea, or the front section of the eyes. Normal and healthy corneas are usually round, allowing them to focus the light entering your eyes properly, which results in clear vision. But when the eyes have keratoconus, the corneas become thin and irregular instead, leading to a cone-like shape that prevents light from being focused correctly into the retina. This, in turn, causes the vision to become distorted. Keratoconus typically occurs in both eyes, with one being more seriously affected than the other. If not dealt with promptly, this can lead to vision loss. 

  1. The exact cause of keratoconus is still undetermined. Unfortunately, there is currently no definitive reason for keratoconus. It remains poorly understood even after decades of study. However, it is believed that the tendency of this eye disease to develop is already present at birth. Collagen loss in the cornea is also a common finding in patients with keratoconus, so it may be possible the condition is caused by some imbalance between the production and deterioration of the corneal tissue. Because the actual cause of keratoconus remains unknown, this also means there’s no concrete way to prevent it. The best thing one can do is early detection via comprehensive eye health exams.

  1. Some people are more at risk of this eye condition. Some studies have revealed that one in every 10 people with keratoconus also has a close family member with the disorder. Make sure to check your family history to see if any of your relatives have been diagnosed with keratoconus. Do you have a habit of rubbing or aggressively ‘knuckling’ your eyes? You might want to wean yourself off this because it also increases your risk of developing this eye condition. Additionally, keratoconus is also linked with chronic eye inflammation caused by allergies and other irritants, which may contribute to the deterioration of the cornea tissue. 

  1. Keratoconus symptoms start early. This eye condition manifests in puberty or in the late teens and progresses into the mid-30s. But there is no way to determine how the fast keratoconus worsens–in fact, it may not progress at all. There are cases where the condition advances for 10-20 years, then slows down. Keratoconus symptoms are subtle enough that most patients are unaware they have it. The signs may include:

  • Slight blurring in vision that gradually worsens

  • Poor night vision

  • Eye irritation and headaches induced by eye pain

  • Increased sensitivity to light

  • Cloudy vision

The symptoms of keratoconus can be mistaken for some other vision problem. That’s why it is important to visit a trusted eye doctor and LipiFlow® specialist, like Excel Eyecare OD PA, for a thorough exam. It offers the most accurate way to determine whether you have keratoconus while prompting the next step of the process: mitigation and treatment.

  1. Keratoconus is diagnosed in a number of ways. Visit your eye care provider and give them your complete medical history. A comprehensive eye examination will be performed along with a few tests to correctly diagnose keratoconus. These tests may include:

  • Corneal topography, which involves taking a computerized image that creates a detailed map of the curvature of the cornea. This not only detects the presence of keratoconus but also follows its progression.

  • Pachymetry, where the thinnest areas of the cornea are measured. 

  • Slit-lamp exam, where the cornea is examined to identify any possible abnormalities in its outer and middle layers.

Excel Eyecare OD PA is not just your trusted vision therapy specialist–you can also depend on us for caring and personalized eye care services. We use only the most advanced equipment and techniques in our eye health exams to better identify potential vision disorders, such as keratoconus, and get you started on its solution.

  1. Keratoconus can be treated. Most of the treatment involved with keratoconus focuses on correcting vision and slowing progression. The type will also depend on the stage of the disorder. If keratoconus is only at its early stages, the patient may be prescribed custom eyeglasses to mitigate nearsightedness and astigmatism. 

Excel Eyecare OD PA can provide you with this service. We offer prescription eyeglasses that are tailored for your specific needs. Aside from being comfortable and safe to wear, they are also available in a wide selection of designer eyeglass frames that allow for greater customization. In cases where the disorder has already progressed, we may recommend scleral gas-permeable contact lenses as a viable alternative. 

Scleral contact lenses are distinctive in their size, which is larger than standard contacts because they are designed to cover the entire cornea. In fact, they even extend to the sclera or the ‘white of the eyes’. By doing so, the scleral contact lenses correct the irregular cone shape of the cornea by providing a perfectly smooth optical surface, which in turn, allows for clear vision. Not only that–the space between the cornea and the back of the scleral lenses also serves as a fluid reservoir, delivering comfort to those also suffering from dry eyes.

Request an Appointment

Excel Eyecare OD PA offers a wide range of high-quality eye health solutions and treatments, from scleral contact lenses and prescription glasses with designer eyeglass frames to vision therapy and LASIK eye surgery. Maintaining a clearer and healthier vision for you and your family becomes simpler when you choose us to fulfill your eye care needs. We serve the communities in and around Charlotte, NC. Call us today at (980) 319-1870 or fill out this request form to schedule your appointment. We look forward to your visit.