Woman showing keratoconus symptoms

Have you ever used a sharp knife to prepare food? Chefs and cooking aficionados will attest to how a sharpened knife creates precise cuts and how important it is for the blade to be at this optimal shape. They will also point out how a warped or dull knife makes it difficult to cut through even the softest vegetables.

Take that same concept and apply it to your eye health. The result is a condition known as keratoconus. 

In This Article...

  1. What is keratoconus?
  2. What are the stages of keratoconus?
  3. Is keratoconus preventable?
  4. How is keratoconus treated?
  5. Keratoconus care at CEENTA

What is keratoconus?

Keratoconus is an eye disorder where the cornea (the clear tissue on the outermost part of the eyes) begins to thin. This results in a bulging shape and progressively severe visual and physical symptoms. As alluded to in the previous analogy, thinning and warpage of the cornea make images appear blurry and lose their sharpness.

What are the stages of keratoconus?

Keratoconus comes in four stages with varying symptom progression:

  • Stage 1: Vision begins to blur with additional astigmatism symptoms
  • Stage 2: Difficulty seeing at night with eye irritation and glares around light sources
  • Stage 3: Additional light sensitivity and decreased vision
  • Stage 4: Vision is significantly reduced due to corneal scarring, making all contact lenses difficult to fit properly

Is keratoconus preventable?

Although the exact cause of keratoconus is unknown, there is believed to be a genetic predisposition. That said, some studies suggest that the likelihood of acquiring this condition can be reduced by limiting UV exposure, ensuring contact lenses properly fit, and not rubbing the eyes.

How is keratoconus treated?

Apart from vision correction with glasses or contact lenses, there are two main procedures for treating keratoconus, depending on the stage.

Corneal cross-linking

During this outpatient procedure, Vitamin B drops are combined with focused UV light and applied to the affected eye to create new chemical bonds and strengthen the cornea’s collagen fibers. This treatment is used to reduce the progression of keratoconus to more severe stages.

Dr. Jeff Stetler, a CEENTA cornea specialist who will be practicing out of our SouthPark location, goes into further detail about the procedure. “Corneal cross-linking is one of the best examples of true preventive medicine. It is well tolerated with minimal recovery time and a great safety profile.”

Corneal transplant

Patients with corneal scarring or severe corneal thinning (stage 4) are not good candidates for corneal cross-linking. As a result, a corneal transplant (or keratoplasty) is a viable method for treating the condition and returning some, if not most, of the eyesight lost in the process.

“Penetrating keratoplasty, or a full-thickness transplant, is the most common procedure for patients with corneal scarring from keratoconus,” Dr. Stetler explains. “While several months of visual rehabilitation is required, most patients obtain marked improvement in vision.”

Keratoconus care at CEENTA

Keratoconus is not a condition that you have to deal with alone. CEENTA’s team of cornea specialists can provide a thorough examination of your eyes to determine the extent of your disorder and guide you towards the treatment options you need to see with better comfort and clarity. Patients will be able to schedule with Dr. Stetler in the near future through our online platform or through your myCEENTAchart account.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with any of our eye doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.


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