FAQs about Keratoconus
Keratoconus Specialized in Houston
How common is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is not common, with only 1 in 2000 people being affected in a meaningful way. That said, more than 1 in 500 people have a very mild case of the disease. They may never have a definitive diagnosis, as they see quite well with or without glasses. There are many cases of forme fruste keratoconus that started to develop but for some reason stopped progressing.
What are the Symptoms?
Patients often complain that their vision becomes distorted, blurry or hazy. Night vision is particularly affected. Depending on the severity of the disease, symptoms obviously will be worse. Eye strain also known as asthenopia can also be associated with keratoconus, as it is very common to squint to try and clear the vision. This puts enormous pressure on the focusing eye muscles, which translates into visual stress.
What Causes this Eye Disease?
If you’re wondering what you did to deserve this condition, be reassured that family history (genetics) has a big role to play. While the disease is found in both males and females, and across the globe, it does tend to favour males, and those of Polynesian, Middle Eastern or African extraction.
The causes of keratoconus are still being investigated, but we now understand that allergy also plays a role, particularly by causing eye rubbing.
Stopping the cycle of itchy eyes and eye rubbing is an essential first step in successful managing, as the friction that can be applied on the fragile cornea can often cause significant progression in the eye disease.
When is this Eye Condition Diagnosed?
In most cases, you (or your child) will be diagnosed during puberty, late teens or early twenties, when vision starts to decline. This can be a very difficult and stressful time. This is a time where teens and young adults are gaining confidence and embracing life. They have so much to look forward to!
- getting their driver's license
- preparing to finish school and get started on their career
- the excitement of overseas travel
And sadly it is at this time that the diagnosis is abruptly delivered. It can seem, as if it is the end of your world and your life. Our vision is our most precious sense. The thought that we may lose it is very traumatic for all concerned.
Vision is affected regardless of whether the diagnosis is mild, moderate or severe and it can be debilitating. Getting treatment from the appropriate practitioner early is important. In many cases, patients are misdiagnosed and may see a number of doctors before they finally have a correct diagnosis. Often, a diagnosis of astigmatism or amblyopia (lazy eye) is given when in fact you have keratoconus.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to find a practitioner who sees affected patients on a regular basis. It is with such a practitioner that an accurate diagnosis shall be made and the appropriate course of action taken.
Common fears after Diagnosis
Young people when diagnosed often worry about their future. For parents, the fears are endless. We all want our children to be happy and healthy. The thought of one of our children losing their vision is terrifying.
The following are all very real and frightening questions:
- Will I go blind?
- Is the diagnosis correct?
- What are the treatment options?
- Is there a cure?
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