Keratoconus is the most common corneal dystrophy in the United States affecting approximately one in every 2,000 Americans. It is the leading indication of full thickness corneal transplantation in the United States and the world. In keratoconus, the cornea, which is the clear “window” into the eye responsible for refracting light to the retina to allow vision, progressively thins and bulges out. That leads to blurred vision, astigmatism, and nearsightedness.
If you have keratoconus, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Halos and light streaking, especially at night
- Distorted images
- Triple or “ghost-like” images
As the corneal lining weakens, vision worsens. Mild vision problems from keratoconus are corrected with glasses or special contact lenses. Some people benefit from intracorneal implants. If the condition is severe, a cornea transplant may be necessary. A promising new FDA-approved treatment, corneal collagen crosslinking (CXL) helps stabilize the cornea and prevents the need for a cornea transplant in some patients.
The condition seems to run in families, but chronic eye rubbing may also be a factor. It generally appears in teenagers or young adults, but may show up at later ages, too. Unfortunately, keratoconus is often misdiagnosed. In fact, some people struggle with the condition for years before they get the right vision correction. Fortunately, keratoconus is treatable, especially if diagnosed early.
When you have a rare eye condition, you need the best care. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, is backed by a team of 1,300 eye experts, the most advanced technology, pioneering research and medical education.
Comprehensive Eye Exam - A thorough exam is the first step in diagnosing this condition.
Slit Lamp Examination - With this tool, your ophthalmologist evaluates the shape of your cornea and looks for other potential eye problems.
Keratometry - By focusing a circle of light on your cornea, keratometry measures the reflection to determine the basic shape of your cornea.
Computerized Corneal Mapping - This test creates a detailed shape map of your cornea's surface and thickness.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) - This non-invasive imaging procedure allows close examination of your cornea to evaluate the extent of your condition.
Eyeglasses - If your disease is not severe, your eye doctor may recommend eye drops or ointment to reduce the swelling in your eye.
Contact Lenses - Specialized soft contact lenses help alleviate pain associated with this disease.
Corneal Collagen Cross-linking (CXL) - This new outpatient treatment stabilizes the cornea, helps preserve vision and may prevent a corneal transplant. To perform this procedure, an ophthalmologist first removes the outer epithelial layer of cells from your cornea. Next, vitamin B12 (riboflavin) drops are placed in your eye. The ophthalmologist then shines UV light on your eye. This activates the riboflavin and stiffens the cornea. Patients wear a protective contact lens during the five to seven day recovery period.
Intracorneal Ring Segments - These tiny, clear plastic rings are placed into your cornea to flatten the cone, support the cornea's shape and improve vision.
Cornea Transplant Surgery (Keratoplasty) - When your keratoconus does not respond to less-invasive treatments, a partial or whole cornea transplant (keratoplasty) may be recommended. Using advanced techniques, the surgeon removes only the unhealthy portion of the cornea and replaces it with healthy donor tissue. Today’s innovative transplant techniques preserve the eye’s structural integrity, minimize risks, promote faster healing and produce better vision.
Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?
Academic-based Precision Medicine. All of our physicians are board-certified or board-eligible ophthalmologists. Backed by the strength of the University of Miami, they stay on the forefront of breakthrough treatments developed through our research. As a teaching facility, we continuously advance and refine eye care. In fact, physicians worldwide recognize our depth of knowledge and travel here for training.
The Latest Diagnostic Imaging Devices. When you have an eye disorder that is difficult to diagnose, but highly treatable if caught early, expert diagnosis is critical. Our diagnostic process is powered by state-of-the-art imaging devices paired with skilled diagnosticians. Working together, your eye care team diagnoses your condition with pinpoint accuracy, then develops your treatment plan.
Extensive Corneal Cross-linking Expertise. Bascom Palmer is one of the few facilities offering corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL). This FDA-approved treatment strengthens the cornea, helps preserve vision and may prevent the need for a corneal transplant. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute contributed to the study that lead to the approval of the treatment in the United States, and is one of the first centers to offer the treatment to patients in the United States.
Advanced Laser Surgery Solutions. With the most innovative and advanced laser technology available, our ophthalmologists perform your surgery with the utmost safety and accuracy. Incision-free laser surgery means quicker recovery and better vision results.
Compassionate, Supportive Care. When you struggle with a rare eye disorder, it’s natural to be worried and frustrated. Keratoconus is often misdiagnosed and its symptoms can mimic other conditions. You not only need excellent medical care, you need compassionate support from your eye care team. We coordinate every aspect of your care. Our ophthalmologists and other eye care professionals listen to your concerns and address them professionally and compassionately.