The term, “Keratoconus” refers to an eye condition involving the cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye, thinning and warping into a cone-like bulge. This condition can do a great deal of harm to your vision. Normally the cornea maintains a curved, dome-like shape. This allows the cornea to refract light onto the back of the eye, in such a way that it creates a clear image to send to the brain where it is interpreted. When the cornea takes on a more conical shape, this scatters the light as it comes in, sending light to several different points on the retina, creating blurring of vision, distortion of vision, increased sensitivity to light, glare and mild eye irritation.
Once symptoms have reached more severe levels, various other treatments are available, such as intacs. These small, curved implantable corneal devices help to reshape the cornea into a more dome-like shape, correcting refractive errors caused by the abnormal shape of the cornea. However, in about 10 to 20 percent of cases, good vision is impossible by any other means besides a corneal transplant. In a corneal transplant, your eye care professional removes the diseased cornea and replaces it with a healthy donor cornea. Eye care professionals prefer to avoid this procedure if possible, however, because in some cases it can take a full year to recover good vision after a corneal transplant.
Vision varies a great deal after a transplant and continues to change for many months. It may start out very poor and gradually improve or be very good immediately after surgery and then worsen. It could take up to a year to develop good, stable vision.
The more severe the keratoconus is, the more likely it is to see a dramatic improvement immediately after surgery. This is due to the dramatic change that occurs when the bulging and distorted cone is replaced with a new smooth donor graft. While some patients develop good vision while the sutures are still in place, best, most stable vision usually occurs after all the sutures are removed. Suture removal occurs at different times for different patients. It depends on the rate of healing, which is faster in younger people. The majority of keratoconus patients have their sutures removed 6-12 months after surgery.
An important question is the level of uncorrected vision that can be expected after surgery. Will glasses be an option, or will contact lenses still be needed? A small percentage of transplant patients do obtain uncorrected vision good enough that neither glasses nor contacts are needed after surgery, but in the majority of cases, some form of vision correction is needed after surgery. Although vision may not be perfect after surgery, it is nearly always a lot better than it was before.
Call Dr. Hendrickson today for an evaluation and treatment options.