One of the most frequently asked questions about keratoconus is if there is a cure. There is currently no cure for the disease, although there are a range of successful treatment options.
Ongoing keratoconus research will maybe one day deliver the Holy Grail, but to date a cure is still elusive. What follows are some of the latest areas of research:
Corneal collagen cross linking combined with laser resurfacing
Corneal cross linking has been used for over a decade now to slow or halt the progression of keratoconus. It stops progressive disease in its tracks in 95% of cases and is most appropriate if you are in your teens or twenties, when the disease is still progressing.
In a very new and experimental version of the procedure, it is combined with laser resurfacing. We have not seen clinical evidence that this procedure is effective.
One of the hallmarks of effective corneal cross linking is that it causes fluctuations in vision for up to 12 months after the procedure, so we find it hard to accept that accurate vision would result from a procedure that combines cross-linking with laser vision correction.
We will watch this space but are not encouraging any patients to have this at this time. We believe that mild to moderate keratoconus patients who fail in contact lenses are better off in glasses than having this sort of surgery.
This latest procedure for treating keratoconus is still under investigation. It uses a single, low energy pulse of microwave energy to flatten the cornea without removing tissue. The collagen fibers of the cornea shrink and flatten in less than a second.
This procedure is combined with an express version of corneal cross-linking to stabilise the cornea.
This may help for keratoconus sufferers who have failed in contact lenses to delay or avoid a corneal graft.
Other possible treatments under investigation include genetic intervention and corneal regeneration.