When a patient is diagnosed with keratoconus, the immediate reaction is to feel fear, thinking that their eye problem may no longer have a solution. Yes, this vision impairment may be very intimidating, especially when the optometrist explains that it affects your eye health. However, the plus side is that, there is a solution to this eye ailment.
Jim Kokkinakis Optometrist has been seeing patients with keratoconus for over 20 years. A very common question is: “What is the Cure Dr?” What we need to understand is there is NO Cure. There is accurate management, which means being able to lead a normal and productive life.
In a nutshell, the main reason why keratoconus leads to visual impairment is because it causes the cornea to deform or change its shape. Hence, it becomes conic in shape. The distortion of vision is then affected negatively. In some cases, there may be scarring which also damages vision.
The type of cure which will be suggested by the optometrist will depend on the severity of the problem. Basically, there are two options to consider. First, is to have fitted lenses which could improve the shape of the cornea and help in having clearer vision. Second, is to undergo surgical procedure so that the cornea can be corrected.
Types of Lenses for Keratoconus
It is important to have the perfectly fitted lens for people who have distorted cornea. Among the popular types of contact lens for such eye ailment include:
Custom Soft Contact Lens.
This is applicable only for patients who have mild to moderate keratoconus. The right measurement has to be taken so that the contact lens could help in improving the shape of the cornea.
Gas Permeable Contact Lens.
This is a more rigid type of lens which should be used by patients who have more severe case. The lens would vault over the cornea and help in restoring its original shape so that vision can be improved.
Piggybacking Contact Lenses.
When the cornea is already irregularly shaped, fitting the contact lens can be quite problematic. In such cases, there are eye doctors who prescribe the use of two different kinds of lenses per eye.
Surgical Procedure for Keratoconus
For patients who have severe case of keratoconus, another treatment option is to undergo a partial thickness corneal transplant. Usually, this procedure can correct the problem on the shape of the cornea. When the bulge is leveled out, then clearer vision can be achieved. If this is done, the improvement in the eyesight can be observed a number of months after the procedure.
In some cases, replacement of the entire cornea is required. This means that the damaged one will be carefully removed by a trained and licensed physician and it will be replaced by a new one. The new cornea will come from a compatible donor. This is done when the cornea can no longer be repaired even if the patient goes through laser procedure.
It has to be noted though that opting for surgery does not solely depend on what the patient wants. This is a decision which will depend on the recommendation of a licensed eye doctor. Patients with keratoconus should undergo several tests which determine the extent of the corneal damage to be able to identify if surgery would be the most fitting solution.
What is clear to Jim Kokkinakis after having seen thousands of keratoconus patients is that the vast majority can be very well managed without any major surgery. That’s great news for most as surgery is a very scary thought.
If you have keratoconus and would like to make an appointment to see Jim Kokkinakis call and make an appointment on (02) 9290 1899. If you are not from Sydney and do not know where to go, call us anyway. It is likely Jim Kokkinakis will know of another competent colleague closer to you.