Keratoconus is an eye disease causing the cornea to thin out and bulge into the shape of a cone. It can change rapidly and requires ongoing care and treatment. There is no cure for keratoconus and the only treatment that can stop the progression is corneal crosslinking. But does keratoconus cause blindness?
Keratoconus Progression and Timelines
Patients are often diagnosed with keratoconus in their early teens. The disease may progress slowly initially but will progress more quickly without treatment. The eye condition can progress more rapidly in younger patients.
Sudden swelling can lead to corneal scarring which can worsen the disorder very quickly. Vision will continue to deteriorate with progression of the disease peaking around the age of 40. Around mid-adulthood, the shape of the cornea remains stable reports the U.S National Library of Medicine.
Keratoconus can affect one eye or both eyes. If a patient has keratoconus in both eyes, the rate of deterioration can develop unequally and is often significantly more advanced in one eye.
Does Keratoconus Cause Blindness?
Swelling and scarring of the cornea can cause reduced or blurred vision. Vision can deteriorate to a degree that it is difficult to lead a normal life.
If the cornea has significant scarring, your eye doctor may recommend a cornea transplant. This is for the most severe cases and a surgery called keratoplasty can help the patient to restore vision.
Keratoconus does not typically lead to complete blindness but patients can lose vision to a point where they are legally blind or have low vision. This happens in a small percentage of cases. Most patients have access to good eye doctors that specialize in keratoconus to detect it early and develop a treatment plan for the patient to follow. With an eye care team in place, most patients will not see a decline to total loss of sight.
Steps to Take If You Have Keratoconus
If you’ve been diagnosed with Keratoconus or it is present in your family, take proactive steps.
Regular eye exams and early detection are key for preserving vision as long as possible.
Work closely with an eye doctor with experience treating keratoconus. Follow their treatment plan and let them know of any changes you’re experiencing. If prescribed contact lenses, follow instructions from your optometrist and clean them diligently to avoid an eye infection that could lead to corneal scarring.
Keratoconus Specialists at Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses
Finding a good corneal specialist as early as possible in your diagnosis will provide the best outcome. Our team of optometrists at our eye clinic in Albuquerque is passionate about helping individuals live their best lives through having the best possible vision.