Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease that causes a normal round cornea to steepen, protrude and become thin. This abnormal shape can cause serious distortion of vision. Early signs of Keratoconus may include glare and haloes around objects (particularly at night), light sensitivity and irritation. As the condition progresses vision may become blurred and distorted. Symptoms usually appear in the late teens or early twenties.
Despite continuing research, the exact cause of Keratoconus remains unknown. Research indicates that Keratoconus may be caused by an excess of enzymes that break down the proteins within the cornea, causing the cornea to become thin and stretched. The genetic inheritance of Keratoconus has not clearly been determined.
It appears that it may involve a number of different genes. Vigorous eye rubbing can contribute to the disease process. People with Keratoconus should absolutely avoid rubbing their eyes. This is sometimes very difficult because some allergies, which cause itchy, irritated eyes are more commonly associated in patients with Keratoconus.
Mild cases of Keratoconus are successfully treated with glasses or specially designed RGP contact lenses. If the condition is progressing, a new (since 2007) minor surgical treatment called Corneal Collagen Crosslinking (CXL) may be required. This aims to slow or stop the deterioration in the cornea. In Corneal Crosslinking, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) drops are soaked into the patient’s cornea, then Ultraviolet A light therapy is applied. This induces Collagen Crosslinking, which has been shown in several studies to stabilise Keratoconus. In a few cases, flattening of the cornea with improved visual acuity has actually occurred. Dr Laurence Sullivan was involved in the Melbourne trial, run through the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. This was the world’s first randomised controlled trial for this procedure. The results confirmed the effectiveness of the procedure, with all untreated eyes deteriorating, and 96% of treated eyes stabilising or slightly improving at 2 years. 4% of eyes did not respond to the treatment. Another international survey has shown lack of effect in about 6% of eyes at up to 7 years of follow-up. It is important to understand that Crosslinking treatment is not a cure for Keratoconus. Rather it aims to halt progression of the disease (or even lead to some moderate improvement). You will still require your glasses or contact lenses after surgery, though the prescription may change.The Crosslinking procedure can be done in rooms at either the East Brighton or East Melbourne clinic.
If you would like to make an appointment please call our reception team on 9596 7440. For patients who wear contact lenses, you are requested not to wear them on the day of your appointment. If you or your Optometrist have information regarding the history of your past glasses prescriptions and keratometry readings (corneal curvature), please bring these with you to your appointment.