Eye conditions vary from the quite minor to the very serious; from the extremely common to the very rare and from the untreatable to the eminently treatable. For such a small part of the body, the eyes are quite complicated and play many serious roles for the whole system.
However, as time moves on, we hear more and more about advanced treatments, even for rare ailments. We hear about success stories such as golfer Sergio Garcia who recently underwent laser eye surgery and then promptly set the course record at a tournament in Dubai.
And all of these things give hope to people with eye conditions. One condition, which happily falls into the rare but treatable category, is Keratoconus.
The affliction affects the cornea (which is the window of the eye) by changing its shape. This shape-shifting causes weakness in the fragile membrane resulting in a cone-shaped cornea. This in turn can lead to conditions such as myopia (short-sightedness) and astigmatism (distorted vision) which are both inconvenient and uncomfortable.
Because of the nature of Keratoconus, the resultant visual problems can be very difficult to address and correct with spectacles, although there is the possibility that very rigid contact lenses can help up to a point. While all of this seems like bad news, the good news is that there are a few avenues of treatment available to sufferers.
So what Keratoconus treatment is available? As noted above, contact lenses can be effective in the case of addressing the vision issues, but unfortunately, this cannot technically be classed as ‘treatment’ as they do not stop the condition from progressing.
The most common treatment for the condition is Corneal Ring Segment Inserts (also known as INTACS). These are clear plastic segments that are surgically inserted into the cornea to correct as much of the coning as possible. The procedure is effective as it can correct the visual problems associated with the condition.
If the Keratoconus is complex, INTACS can be complemented with implantable contact lenses (ICLs) which further assists the corrective properties of the original procedure.
A newer procedure called Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking (or, simply, Cross-Linking) is proving increasingly effective in the treatment of Keratoconus. The procedure, which is non-surgical, uses Riboflavin drops in combination with ultraviolet light to strengthen the corneal tissues. This strengthening encourages the tissues to ‘cross-link’ thus making the whole structure stronger.
Due to the nature of the treatment, a contact lens is inserted for five days following the Cross-Linking procedure to allow time for the eye to heal. Only one eye is treated at a time due to the intensity of the treatment and the variables in healing time. While this may seem like a strenuous option, the results of the treatment are often astounding.
Eye complaints can cause misery to those who are afflicted because even minor complaints can build over time to become chronic conditions. The good news for those who suffer (with many ailments, not just Keratoconus) is that, quite often, treatment is just a phone call away.