Can an Optometrist Diagnosis and Treat Keratoconus?

picture of a woman

Can an Optometrist Diagnosis and Treat Keratoconus?

picture of a woman with glasses

Can an Optometrist Diagnosis and Treat Keratoconus?

picture of a man with glasses

Can an Optometrist Diagnosis and Treat Keratoconus?

picture of a man with glasses

Keratoconus is an eye condition characterized by the distortion of the cornea or clear front dome. A cornea functions by focusing light on the eyes, which helps produce clear images.


Patients with the condition have thin and cone-shaped corneas that lead to blurry and distorted vision. These corneas can make it difficult to perform daily tasks.


Here is more information on the diagnosis and treatment of keratoconus.


 

What Causes Keratoconus?



The condition is usually genetic, so individuals who have a relative with keratoconus have an increased risk of getting it.


Keratoconus occurs when the molecular bonds in the tiny fibers that hold the cornea in position become weak. This affects the corneas’ ability to maintain proper shape, leading to the surface becoming irregular.


Certain factors can cause the disease to progress, including frequent eye rubbing.


 

Stages of Keratoconus



Keratoconus often affects both eyes, but one eye can have it worse than the other. It progresses in different stages—mild, moderate, and severe.
 

  • In the mild stage, patients experience mild blurring and vision distortion. At this stage, doctors can treat the condition using eyeglasses or soft contact lenses.
     

  • In the moderate stage, vision is compromised even when using updated eyeglasses. The patient will require rigid contact lenses to enhance functional vision.
     

  • The severe stage usually involves scarring of the cornea. A corneal transplant may be necessary.


 

Diagnosing Keratoconus



An optometrist at Look! Optometry can help diagnose keratoconus by conducting a clinical examination. The eye doctor will review the patient’s history, then conduct a comprehensive eye exam to look for the condition.


Tests to diagnose keratoconus include eye refraction, slit-lamp examination, computerized corneal mapping, and keratometry. Some people assume that a bulging cornea must be painful, but the pain is not a usual symptom of keratoconus.


 

Treating Keratoconus



The optometrist will recommend the best treatment based on symptoms and individual factors. Treatment will involve slowing the disease progression and improving the vision. Depending on the stage or severity of the condition, the optometrist can recommend:

 

  • Prescription eyeglasses
     

  • Soft contact lenses
     

  • Rigid-surface contact lenses
     

  • Corneal collagen cross-linking
     

  • INTACS®
     

  • Corneal transplant
     

 

Visiting an Optometrist


 

If you experience blurred or distorted vision, visit an optometrist. This is a professional with the qualifications to diagnose and treat the condition. If you need special contact lenses, an experienced doctor will take you through the necessary fitting process. Poorly-fitting lenses can cause more damage to the cornea. Make sure to go for regular eye checkups to ensure that the treatment is working effectively.


If you have the condition, avoid rubbing your eyes as this can make the symptoms worse. If your eyes are constantly itchy, talk to the eye doctor about medication that can provide relief.


Most patients develop keratoconus in their teens or early twenties. However, the condition may continue to progress and lead to astigmatism. The symptoms become more severe as the cornea becomes more conical. Getting regular eye exams is the best way to prevent the progression of the disease.



For more on whether an optometrist can diagnose and treat keratoconus, visit Look! Optometry at our office in Manhattan Beach, California. You can call (310) 796-5665 today to schedule an appointment.

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