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Treatments for Keratoconus

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus (KC) is an eye condition in which the cornea weakens and thins over time, causing the development of a cone-like bulge and optical irregularity of the cornea. It occurs in approximately 1 in 2,000 individuals.

This condition typically begins to affect people in their late teens or early twenties, and may progress for 10-20 years before slowing or stabilizing. Each eye is affected differently. In the early stages of keratoconus, you might experience mildly blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night, frequent headaches, an increased sensitivity to light, and the need to frequently change your eyeglass prescription.

During later stages of keratoconus, you may experience higher levels of blurry and distorted vision, an increase of nearsightedness or astigmatism, or be unable to wear contact lenses, as they will no longer fit properly and be uncomfortable.

Keratoconus Treatments

There are a variety of treatment options for keratoconus, including rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses, scleral contact lenses, intracorneal ring segment implants, and more. Learn about these options below.

Eyeglasses or Soft Contact Lenses

Wearing prescription lenses improves your vision because the lenses bend rays of light to focus images on the retina inside your eye. The cornea is the clear dome-shaped part of the front of the eye and is responsible for the majority of the focusing of the eye on the retina. However, as keratoconus progresses, the cornea becomes more irregularly shaped and stronger optical lenses are required for clear vision.

Even though eyeglasses and soft contact lenses may help correct refractive errors like nearsightedness and farsightedness, some vision issues associated with keratoconus may still persist due to the irregular corneal shape, such as light sensitivity or discomfort.

Specialty Contact Lenses (RGP, Scleral, Hybrid)

Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses and specialty scleral contact lenses create a smooth, uniform surface, allowing the light to be clearly focused. A saline solution fills in the space between the rigid lens and the cornea, “masking” the irregular corneal shape. Contact lens fittings may become more challenging as keratoconus becomes more advanced.

Scleral contact lenses in particular help with keratoconus because the lens creates a dome over the irregular cornea and functions as the new refractive surface of the eye. They are preferred by most eye doctors who fit specialty contact lenses because of their superior comfort & versatility.

Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL)

This minimally invasive procedure uses Riboflavin eye drops plus UVA light to slow keratoconus progression. Riboflavin eye drops are activated with UVA light to create additional cross-link bonds in the cornea, making it stiffer. CXL does not restore vision that has already been lost and does not eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses. But it can help limit the progression of keratoconus.

Intracorneal Ring Segments (ICRS)

These specifically designed implants are made of medical plastic that are surgically placed under the surface of the cornea to help improve the corneal shape. The ICRS are implanted into the cornea to flatten the steep part of the cone into a more regular shape. This surgery does not slow keratoconus progression, and glasses or contact lenses are usually still needed.

Corneal Transplant Surgery

This surgery replaces part of the cornea with donor tissue to improve corneal shape and/or clarity. The irregular or scarred corneal tissue is replaced with donor tissue from a cornea without keratoconus. Corneal transplant surgery is usually reserved for advanced cases, when the patient can no longer tolerate contact lenses or vision is severely compromised.

If you are concerned you may have keratoconus, reach out to The Specialty Contact Lens Center At Eye Trends today. We can help. With expert experience and a deep understanding of keratoconus, we can recommend the treatment option that is best for you in order to maximize your comfort and ensure you have clear, consistent vision.

The Specialty Contact Lens Center At Eye Trends serves patients from Houston, Spring, Woodlands, Conroe, and throughout Texas.

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Dr. Inns is a 1982 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilfred Laurier University, Canada. During his training at the University of Houston, he held positions in research and was a teaching assistant / laboratory instructor.

Postgraduate work includes therapeutic courses at Pennsylvania College of Optometry and the Optometric Glaucoma Specialist Course at the University of Texas Medical School. Dr. Inns has published in Optometry Today and Optometric Management. He also volunteers at the schools in his area.

Dr. Inns and his wife, Lynn, spend much of their spare time calling and visiting with their four boys.

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Amber Draper, Manager

As the manager of The Woodlands office, Amber Draper leads the team with the focus on patient care and assisting with their ophthalmic needs. Having over 10 years experience, Amber can aid patients with the most appropriate lens technology to match their daily needs. Everyone needs at least one pair of sun wear, especially here in Texas.

Amber is a proud graduate of Sam Houston State University with a BA in History, and a minor in Spanish.

In her spare time, she is with family, friends, and enjoying some Houston Texans Football.

Dr. Toups is a 1984 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from Northeast Louisiana University.

Being a therapeutically licensed optometrist, Dr. Toups is trained to diagnose and treat ocular conditions. He specializes in contact lenses and he is current with all refractive surgery procedures.

Dr. Toups is married, has five children and has lived in the Houston area since 1980.

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