Vital Facts about Keratoconus that One Should Know

Keratoconus is a disease of the front surface of the eye that often is visually debilitating. It affects about 1/2000 of the population, so in India it is estimated that at least 50,000 people suffer with this condition. Many struggle to function in everyday life due to inappropriate treatment options or advice.

An important point is that most eye-care practitioners see about 2,000 eye patients per year, so on average an eye care expert will only see one to five patients with keratoconus per year. It does not matter how smart you are; if you do not involve yourself frequently with an activity

you will never develop the skill to deal with it effectively and efficiently. Because there is a lack of experience in the keratoconus area often a person that has keratoconus will accidentally be

steered in a totally incorrect direction.

Keratoconus does not lead to blindness

It is amazing that most patients with keratoconus by us believe that they will go blind sometime in their life. This occurs simply because they have seen their vision get worse and worse so they believe that the eye condition will continue to degrade to the point that nothing can be done to recover the vision.

Some people have seen a number of eye care practitioners over time and no one has been able to fit them with contact lenses or glasses and they are too scared to pursue corneal transplant surgery.

They then try to function with poor vision and believe it is only a matter of time before they will see nothing at all.

The reality is that no one goes blind from keratoconus. There are currently multiple options before corneal transplantation might be required.

If corneal transplantation is finally required its success rate is greater than 95%, when done by an expert corneal surgeon. Please note that glasses or contact lenses are normally required after surgery, but visual quality is normally very good. It is important to understand vision correction is still required in most cases.

Somewhere along the line we always get reasonable vision

How do you know that you have keratoconus?

Getting the diagnosis correct is the first step.

Many patients are not diagnosed till quite late in the course of the disease.

Pointers to a possibility of keratoconus are:

Fluctuating vision (or your child says this all the time).

Rapid and repeated changes of spectacles.

“Unclear Vision” despite “new” spectacle numbers.

Inability of the optician to give you a “correct number”

for spectacles.

Family history of keratoconus

The correct diagnosis depends on a number of skilled clinical evaluations. None can replace your skilled eye surgeon and his examination skills.

What are the current management options for keratoconus?

Being at the forefront of keratoconus management Clear Vision Eye Center offers a variety of cutting edge options for its patients.

  • The typical management pathway we offer consists of checking refraction and working out suitability of spectacles.
  • Alternatively contact lenses are fitted for visual restoration.
  • If progression is demonstrated then we offer Corneal Collagen Cross Linking with Riboflavin (C3R) to stabilize the cornea.
  • This can be followed by addition of Intra Corneal ring segments (ICRS) to further stabilize the vision.
  • Most patients can return to contact lenses after these two treatments.
  • In the rare event that an eye with keratoconus needs surgery Clear Vision offers all surgical options ranging from Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK) to Penetrating keratoplasty (PK).

Keratoconus specialists are far and few between

At the beginning of this report I mentioned the prevalence of keratoconus in the general Indian population is guessed to be about 1/2000 to 1/3000. There are approximately 13,000 eye surgeons in India so if patients with keratoconus were evenly distributed to every eye surgeon, each would have only 30 keratoconus patients to look after. No eye surgeon in the country could possibly develop any expertise in this area.

The good news is that there are approximately twelve to fifteen centers around the country that look after many keratoconus patients. Clear Vision is proud to mention that it is probably the only centre in private practice where a single trained surgeon offers all the care in keratoconus.

This includes

  • All the different contact lenses (RoseK, modified keratoconus CL, Soft perm [soft edge], Scleral lenses),
  • Para surgical therapies like Corneal Collagen Cross Linking with Riboflavin (C3R),
  • Intracorneal Ring Segments (ICRS), and
  • corneal transplantation (both lamellar and penetrating keratoplasty).
  • This makes us one of the few national centers with end-to-end expertise in keratoconus management.

If you read this report and have or know someone with keratoconus that is having a difficult time, I invite you to contact me via email at: drvinay.agrawal@gmail.com or contact through our websites www.corneatransplant.net or www.clearvision.org.in

(this material is compiled from various sources and is correct to the best of our knowledge. Please consult your eye care expert prior to any action)