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How Can I Find a Keratoconus Specialist?

If you’ve just been diagnosed with keratoconus or have a family history, you’ll want to find the best keratoconus specialist near you for your ongoing treatment.

Keratoconus Develops Rapidly

One of the differences between keratoconus and other eye diseases is how quickly it can progress. With an eye disease that changes often, it is important to find an eye doctor you feel comfortable with. Keratoconus requires an ongoing relationship with frequent appointments for best management.

An optometrist that specializes in diagnosing keratoconus and the treatment of keratoconus will often have special equipment allowing them to recognize keratoconus sooner than other optometry clinics.

Sometimes Develops in Families

While it is not known exactly what causes keratoconus, one factor is that it can sometimes be hereditary. If your family has a history of keratoconus, it is recommended to find an eye doctor near you that specializes in keratoconus for early detection. Keratoconus can start developing during the teenage years.

Treating Keratoconus

Treatment options for keratoconus may include eyeglasses or contact lenses, custom scleral contact lenses or custom rigid gas permeable lenses, Intacs, corneal collagen cross linking, and eye surgery or a cornea transplant.

In the early stages, patients are often fitted for glasses or contact lenses. The prescription may change often as the disease progresses.

Custom scleral contact lenses are often prescribed as they can be more comfortable for patients with keratoconus as they vault over the cornea of the eye. Patients with keratoconus have a cone-shaped cornea which may make it difficult to wear soft contact lenses. It can be helpful if the optometrist managing your keratoconus is also able to fit you for custom scleral contact lenses. Many patients that suffer from corneal eye diseases will find custom scleral contact lenses a good option.

If Intacs, corneal crosslinking, and/or cornea surgery or corneal transplants is recommended, your eye doctor will refer you to an ophthalmologist who specializes in the surgical treatment of keratoconus. Together, both eye doctors will develop an individualized treatment plan before and after the surgery and will co-manage the treatment of your keratoconus.

Keratoconus Specialists Stay Informed

Having a cornea eye specialist managing your keratoconus means they stay informed of the latest treatments and best practices for managing keratoconus.

When looking for a keratoconus specialist to treat your eye disease, find an eye doctor near you that:

  • You feel comfortable with,
  • Has the necessary equipment for early detection of keratoconus,
  • Can fit you with custom scleral contact lenses,
  • Works with an ophthalmologist specializing in keratoconus surgical options if your corneal disease progresses and requires surgery,
  • Regularly works with other keratoconus patients and specializes in the treatment of keratoconus.

Albuquerque Optometrists that Specialize in Keratoconus

The optometrists at Eyes of New Mexico Family Optometry and Contact Lenses in Albuquerque are specialists in treating keratoconus. If you or your family has a keratoconus diagnosis or you’d like to find out, book an appointment at our Albuquerque clinic. We’ll get started with an eye exam to see where we can improve vision and increase the comfort of your eyes.

7 Tips for Using Scleral Contact Lenses

Scleral contact lenses are larger diameter Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses. The larger size of scleral contact lenses fits vaults over the cornea of the eye.

They are often a good option for patients with corneal diseases like keratoconus and pellucid degeneration.

Scleral contact lenses can be customized for each individual patient providing a more comfortable fit. Other benefits of scleral contact lenses are clear vision and improved dryness. 

Be patient as you learn to adjust to wearing scleral contact lenses. It will take a bit of practice. 

1. Not the Same as Other Lenses

Scleral Contact Lenses are inserted and removed differently than regular contact lenses. This can take some time to adjust to. This video provides some tips on inserting and removing scleral contact lenses as well as caring for them, we also have a video here. You may need to try several insertion and removal methods before finding the one that works well for you.

2. Cleaning Regularly

Like any contact lens wearers, regular cleaning is essential. Make sure you’re washing your hands thoroughly before inserting scleral lenses and for lens removal.

Use only recommended products to keep lenses and your eyes in the best condition. Follow instructions from your eye doctor on proper lens care and cleaning methods.

Regularly clean your contact lens case as well.

Good hygiene will prevent eye infections.

3. Removing Scleral Contact Lenses

A drop or two of preservative-free artificial tears or saline into the eye before removing and a gentle massage can help to loosen the lens. For most wearers, it is best to remove their lenses about one hour before going to bed. 

4. UV Protection

We recommend wearing sunglasses with your custom scleral contact lenses to protect your eyes from UV rays. 

5. When Wearing Makeup

For those that would like to wear makeup while wearing scleral lenses, there are a few minor adjustments.

Put your custom scleral contact lenses in before applying your makeup. Choose cream rather than powders and eye-friendly, hypoallergenic products. Don’t use eyeliner on the inside rims of the eyes.

Remove lenses before cleaning off makeup. 

6. Facial Moisturizer

Avoid oil-based moisturizers on the eyelids.

7. Avoid Wearing Lenses on a Plane

For anyone wearing contact lenses, wear your glasses when flying if you are able to. The air in aircraft cabins is very low causing your eyes to become dry and uncomfortable. Put them in as soon as you land when you are able to do so. 

There are many benefits to custom scleral contact lenses for patients. With a bit of time and practice, scleral contact lenses will become part of your routine. A scleral lens fitting may take more time but patients often find them more comfortable.

They will help to keep the cornea healthy and with their wider diameter are often more comfortable for better patient vision and comfort. Fitting scleral lenses properly can also help with dry eyes as the scleral lens design is to vault over the eye, protecting the cornea underneath. Follow all of the recommendations provided to you by our optometrists

Contact our Albuquerque office if you are having any issues or to book an appointment for a custom scleral contact lenses consultation and fitting.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

Do You Have Keratoconus?

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is an eye disease where the cornea of the eye will gradually thin and bulge, shifting into the shape of a cone. It is sometimes referred to as irregular astigmatism. People with keratoconus suffer from poor vision. At Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses, we can diagnose and treat keratoconus.

Who is at Risk?

The disease typically starts in the teenage years or early twenties. Over the next 10 to 20 years, patients diagnosed with keratoconus can expect the disease to get worse. The rate of progression of the disease is not the same in everyone.

There are no known causes of keratoconus, nor is it known why certain people get the disease. Family history, Down syndrome, Marfan syndrome, congenital disorders and vigorous eye rubbing are some of the risk factors. If one of your parents had keratoconus, eyes should be checked every year starting at age 10 for the disease.

Inflammation from allergies or asthma can break down the tissue of the cornea and is also a risk. Environmental factors can include excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sign, continuous poorly fitted contact lenses and chronic eye irritation.

What are the Symptoms?

Those that suffer from keratoconus have blurry vision, possibly cloudy vision and may have a sensitivity to light and glare. This may cause difficulty with driving at night. Progressive nearsightedness may also develop.

Symptoms can change as the disease progresses and changes can be sudden or gradual. It can affect one or both eyes. It is important that you don’t rub your eyes. If this is something you’re finding yourself doing, make sure you talk to us.

How We Treat Keratoconus

Optometrists at Eyes of New Mexico are specialists in treating keratoconus. Our optometrists will look for signs of keratoconus during your routine eye health exam. To diagnose it, we will measure the shape of your cornea. In the early stages it may look like any other refractive error like that of blurred vision. It is easier to detect as the disease worsens.

Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses in Albuquerque has the latest technology to detect and diagnose this disease sooner. With such a progressive disease, this provides a tremendous advantage to our patients that is not available at all clinics.

Glasses, Custom Scleral Contact Lenses or Custom Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses

Initially, glasses may be prescribed for the treatment of keratoconus. Glasses and the prescription may change often. As the disease advances, your prescription may change to custom scleral contact lenses or custom rigid gas permeable lenses. We will custom-fit you for scleral contact lenses or rigid gas permeable lenses if appropriate for your specific situation.

Corneal Cross-Linking

The only effective treatment that can halt the progression of keratoconus is corneal cross-linking. It is a relatively new procedure and will be performed in the office by our qualified eye doctors. We will use special eye drop medication and ultraviolet light from a special machine to create stronger, more stable corneal tissues. Talk to the doctors at Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses to find out if you’re a good candidate for a corneal collagen cross-linking procedure.

Surgery or Cornea Transplant

Eventually, patients with keratoconus may need surgery or even a cornea transplant. We will be able to guide you through this process and refer you if surgery is needed.

As keratoconus is a progressive disease, monitoring and maintaining your eye health is extremely important. Changes to vision can occur frequently and rapidly and it is important to have a keratoconus specialist near you that you see regularly.

Specialists for Keratoconus

We can diagnose your condition and find the right treatment option for your comfort level and the stage of your progression. Our New Mexico eye doctors are able to help you at any stage of your diagnosis of Keratoconus. If you’ve suffered from an extreme change of vision, have a family history of keratoconus or feel you may be at risk, book an appointment with us in our Albuquerque clinic today.