Keratoconus (KC) is a thinning of the central zone of the cornea. As this progresses, normal eye pressure causes the round shape of the cornea to distort and a cone-like bulge develops, resulting in significant visual impairment
Symptoms blurring and shortsightedness, light sensitivity, halos and ghosting around light sources that can make night driving difficult
Treatments spectacles in the early stages. Then contact lenses, usually rigid. Corneal crosslinking may slow or halt progression; corneal transplants used in a small number of severe cases
Avoid Eye Rubbing regular and vigorous eye rubbing can break down the fibres of the cornea and can trigger or aggravate progressive keratoconus. Itchy and dry eyes should be treated medically, not rubbed
Keratoconus may slow or even stabilise once you stop eye rubbing
Avoid eye rubbing Vigorous rubbing of itchy eyes can trigger keratoconus and cause progression in an existing condition. Ophthalmologists say keratoconus may slow or even halt once you stop eye rubbing. Treat itchy eyes with eye drops and cold compresses, not eye rubbing.
Rinse with saline solution and wash your hands Tap water contains all sorts of nasty bacteria that cause serious eye infections. Don't take the risk: use saline solution to rinse your lenses after cleaning them in the evening and to rinse out your contact lens case every morning before drying with a tissue. And wash your hands before handling contact lenses!
6-12 monthly reviews Keratoconus is a progressive disease and can advance quickly in adolescents and young adults. Schedule a review with your eye-carer (generally optometrist/contact lens fitter) every 6-12 months. Incorrectly-fitted contact lenses can cause irritation and scarring. Crosslinking may be required to halt further progression.
Emergency spectacles Everyone should have a pair of emergency spectacles if you wear contact lenses. They don't provide perfect vision. But they do enable you to do things around the house, make bathroom trips in the night and avoid wearing lenses in the dry atmosphere of a plane on long trips. Ask your keratoconus specialist optometrist about a pair
Treatment and Travel Subsidies The cost of treatments for keratoconus is spiralling out of control. We have compiled a list of state-based funding schemes for vision related treatments and clinics where these can be found. For regional and remote patients, travel assistance schemes also exist to subsidise the cost of travel for treatment outside of your local area. Take advantage of these to get the best treatments
Patience is a virtue – for both patient and eye-carer Keratoconus is often frustrating for both patient and eye-carer. Fitting contact lenses can be very a lengthy and complex process and both parties need to be patient. 3-12 months of trial and error are not uncommon. Also, the right fit is not always possible and surgery does not always yield the desired result. Talk to your eye-carers before you start a treatment to understand risks and costs and what will happen if things don't work out as planned.