All About Keratoconus & Treatment in the Bay Area
Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease in which the cornea of your eye does not maintain smooth, rounded ball shape. Instead, the cornea protrudes outward into a cone shape. When untreated, keratoconus leads to blurry or distorted vision that regular eyeglasses and contact lenses cannot improve. However, it doesn’t need to be that way! Our experienced eye doctor in San Leandro, Concord, and Castro Valley specialize in treating keratoconus with the latest therapies to provide sharp (and comfortable!) eyesight.
Truthfully, the precise cause of keratoconus is unknown. It is a rare condition, affecting only about one in 2,000 people, and evidence points to genetics as the primary culprit – because it tends to run in families.
What changes in the eye are responsible for keratoconus? In the normal healthy eye, corneal cells produce damaging by-products that are kept in balance and destroyed by protective antioxidants that you have naturally. With keratoconus, the quantity of these antioxidants is reduced, thereby weakening the collagen fibers in your eye. In their weakened, fragile state, the collagen fibers cannot hold your cornea in a spherical shape.
Most of the time, keratoconus appears during teenagehood and continues to progress until you are in your 30s or 40s. Usually, it affects both eyes, and the rate of vision deterioration is highly individual. As it gets more severe, you may have trouble reading or driving. Keratoconus does not typically result in blindness, but about 20% of patients will need a corneal transplant.
In our eye care centers in San Leandro, Castro Valley, and Concord, we take pride in offering cutting-edge, highly effective treatments for keratoconus. Normally, we treat this eye disease initially with rigid contact lenses that flatten and gently reshape your bulging cornea, thereby improving vision. To ensure the most comfortable fit, we will use computerized corneal topography to map your cornea and make customized contacts.
If your disease advances to the point that contact lenses cannot enhance your vision sufficiently, we may recommend alternative treatments, such as Intacs, Conductive Keratoplasty (CK), and Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL). Our eye doctor is highly trained and experienced in treating keratoconus and will gladly discuss the most appropriate treatment options with you!
Intacs – Inserts to Treat Keratoconus
It used to be that a corneal transplant was the only effective treatment for keratoconus, once eyeglasses and contact lenses were no longer suitable. Fortunately, that is no longer the case – less invasive options are now available. One option that has grown in popularity is Intacs, prescription inserts that can stabilize the cornea and enhance eyesight for people with keratoconus.
Intacs are thin, transparent prescription inserts that your eye surgeon will place in the periphery of your cornea in order to mold the corneal curvature from within. This improves the natural shape of the eye, corrects mild myopia (nearsightedness), and works as an effective therapy for keratoconus. The in-office procedure takes about 15 – 20 minutes, and follow-up visits are scheduled to check on the healing process and to confirm that your vision has improved.
Usually, vision improves significantly with Intacs – however, many people still need to wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses to see clearly. But now that the cornea has been reshaped, wearing contact lenses is a comfortable experience!
During the first few days after the Intacs procedure, many patients experience sensitivity to light, since that a foreign object is in their eye, or produce more tears. These are all normal symptoms associated with how the incision heals. Typically, the symptoms are short-lived and cause only mild discomfort.
In our Concord, San Leandro, and Castro Valley offices, we have been treating keratoconus patients with Intacs ever since the FDA approved them in 2004. In fact, Dr. Stephen Turner was one of the pioneering surgeons in the US who used this treatment with outstanding success! To learn more about Intacs and whether they can work for you, book a consultation with our Bay Area eye doctor.
Corneal Cross Linking (CXL) in San Leandro, Concord, and Castro Valley
We are pleased to offer corneal cross-linking (CXL), the breakthrough treatment for keratoconus, in our state-of-the-art eye care clinics in Concord, Castro Valley, and San Leandro. Collagen cross-linking is safe and effective,
fully approved by the FDA as a method to improve vision in people with keratoconus. It aims to strengthen the cornea in order to halt the progression of the corneal protrusion.
How does corneal cross-linking work? In order to perform this revolutionary treatment, your eye doctor will apply a special solution of How riboflavin (B-vitamin) on your cornea for about a half-hour. Then, your eyes will be exposed to UV light for approximately 10-30 minutes. If you’re wondering what these lights are like – they are very similar to the blue lights you’ve probably seen shining at deli counters to sterilize the surface. After this step, there’s nothing left to do but wait for the results. Usually, our keratoconus patients notice visual improvement from collagen cross-linking within one month. To find out if you are a candidate for this type of treatment, schedule an appointment with our keratoconus specialist in the Bay Area.