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Keratoconus: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Keratoconus is a degenerative eye disease affecting the cornea, typically manifesting during puberty and often progressing until around the age of 40. The condition causes thinning of the cornea, which gradually takes on an irregular shape resembling a cone. The cornea is one of the three lenses in the eye and plays a crucial role in focusing images.

For us to enjoy perfectly focused images, it’s necessary for the cornea to have a regular shape, with a more curved central portion and a less pronounced curvature in the peripheral area. When this configuration is altered due to the onset of keratoconus, vision becomes blurry.

Keratoconus: Symptoms

As mentioned, the progressive deformation of the cornea leads to blurry vision, affecting normal focus beyond the observation distance. The symptoms of keratoconus are attributable to irregular astigmatism: this disorder tends to worsen over time and in some cases becomes difficult to improve with the use of glasses and contact lenses. The severity of the disorder depends on multiple factors, including the location, extent, and degree of corneal tissue deterioration. Only a visit to a specialist can resolve doubts regarding the diagnosis.

Keratoconus: Diagnosis

Timely diagnosis of keratoconus is crucial to prevent the condition from reaching particularly disabling stages of development. The diagnosis of keratoconus is determined through three specific examinations:

Corneal topography: This examination is the most suitable for diagnosing keratoconus, allowing for early detection and providing all the necessary elements for analyzing its evolution over time. The goal of corneal topography is to evaluate the curvature of the cornea, providing a precise altitudinal map representing its surface. In the case of individuals wearing contact lenses, it’s necessary to discontinue use before the examination, for a period ranging from 5 to 20 days.

Corneal tomography: This examination analyzes the curvature, elevation, and thickness of the corneal tissue using tomographic technology. It can recognize even mild cases and monitor their progression over time.

Corneal pachymetry: This involves measuring the thickness of the cornea and generating a comprehensive map of the entire surface. This allows for the identification of the thinnest point.

Keratoconus: Causes

The causes of keratoconus are not yet clearly defined. Some studies have suggested that this disorder is linked to genetic factors, combined with external factors that influence its progression, such as microtrauma from rubbing or allergies. Risk factors include retinopathy of prematurity, retinitis pigmentosa, springtime keratoconjunctivitis, systemic diseases such as Down syndrome or some collagen diseases, atopy, and continuous eye rubbing.

Keratoconus: Treatment

In its early stages, keratoconus can be corrected with the use of eyeglasses. As it progresses, irregular astigmatism correction may require the application of contact lenses. When even contact lenses fail to correct the visual defect, keratoconus treatment may involve surgical options.

Surgical therapies include various options, such as:

Corneal Cross-Linking. Particularly indicated for early stages of progression. Corneal remodeling associated with Cross-Linking. Intrastromal ring implantation. Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK). Penetrating keratoplasty (PKP). Corneal transplantation. The Importance of Prevention

Keratoconus is a hereditary condition, and early diagnosis is the best way to combat it. Treating the disease in its initial phase allows for correction of visual defects with minimally invasive methods. Delaying diagnosis may necessitate surgical treatments or even corneal transplantation.

At MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini,” patients can undergo a comprehensive eye examination, providing a complete picture of the patient’s clinical situation and offering all the necessary information for specific treatments and interventions. Thanks to the ophthalmic surgery facility, surgical intervention is available for cases that require it.

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