Megan Johnson McCullough –When the cornea thins and begins to bulge, a progressive eye disease might be forming called keratoconus. My husband has this eye disease. Vision becomes distorted due to light reception. The cone shape that is forming starts to deflect light. The cornea is the eye’s windshield that we see through. A normal cornea is round like a ball. When the structure of the cornea is not strong, it can begin to bulge trying to keep its place which creates more of a cone shape. Collagen is what holds the cornea in place. The fibers are composed of collagen and person’s with keratoconus have weak fibers.
In addition to the abnormal shape of the cornea, the protective antioxidants of this area of the eye are not plentiful. As a result, even exhaust from a car can cause irritation. If normal antioxidant levels were intact, the collagen fibers could get rid of these irritants.
This condition is mostly passed on by family members. Regular eye exams should occur annually starting at least by age 10. Keratoconus usually strikes during the teenage years but can surface up to age 30. The shape of the cornea may change gradually or strike quickly. When this happens, symptoms include blurry vision and halos that occur from light exposure. The disease might start in one eye, but for most people both eyes will be affected eventually. Typically, the disease forms in one eye then takes its toll on the other much later.
Because the collagen fibers are being stretched by the bulging cornea, scarring can occur. This causes swelling. A person with the disease is practically unable to see without the helps of glasses or contact lenses. Severe conditions may call for a complete cornea transplant (which my husband had). LASIK surgery must be avoided for persons with this disease because it can weaken the cornea even more.
An eye exam can be performed to diagnosis this condition. A person affected would have a wavy surface to their cornea, not smooth as it should be. Vision would be more nearsighted to the expansion of the cornea. Far away objects will become blurry. A person might see double in the affected eye and halos. If these signs exist, a doctor will then measure the shape of the cornea. A cornea topography will take a picture of the cornea to analyze the shape. Treatment starts with glasses or contact lenses. Cornea collagen crosslinking is a type of treatment that involves places implants into the cornea to help correct the shape. A PTK laser can help correct the scarring of the cornea. If none of these work, then a cornea transplant can be performed. A donated cornea can be stitched into place.
The scarring and sensitivity to light are painful for a person with keratoconus. Our vision cannot be taken for granted. When even driving becomes uncomfortable, a person cannot ignore these symptoms. Seeking help is critical. The disease might progress over time, but a person can offset surgery by other methods up until that point. Victims are innocent, so it’s always important to consider donations, even of the cornea post death, because person’s like my husband can see the world again.
Megan Johnson McCullough Every BODY’s Fit www.oceansidefitnesstraining.com