What is Keratoconus? Is keratoconus treatable

Keratoconus

We differentiate between a "silent" form of keratoconus, the so-called "Forme Fruste", and the advancing keratoconus, the "progressive" form.

The "Forme Fruste" is ten times as common as the progressive form and usually does not cause any symptoms. For the patient, it is indistinguishable from astigmatism, which can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. It is often discovered by chance during an ophthalmological check-up and only requires medical observation. If the condition is stable, this form of keratoconus does not have to be treated.

The progressive form can be noticeable as early as the early teens. As the disease progresses, it becomes more and more difficult to correct visual acuity using spectacle lenses, as the protrusion of the cornea is irregular. Contact lenses can correct this much better because they exert pressure on the cornea and can thus even out the greatest bumps.

As a patient, you can expect up to 100% vision in most phases. However, if the bulging of the cornea continues to increase, contact lenses can no longer be worn after a certain point in time. As the bulge increases, the cornea below the center becomes thinner and thinner. It can break through and scar. This weakens your visual acuity in the long run.

The only treatment option so far has been corneal transplantation. Since this is an organ transplant, there are risks and complications associated with this operation. It often takes one to two years to achieve adequate eyesight. In addition, corneal transplants in keratoconus usually affect young people who will live with the transplanted cornea for many decades to come, which means that the transplant must still function properly for decades.

A simple and low-risk treatment is stabilization using CXL (Cornea Cross Linking) or cross-linking of the cornea. If the treatment is successful, the corneal protrusion and thinning comes to a standstill. This can prevent a corneal transplant.

Another method to treat keratoconus and prevent corneal transplantation is the insertion of intracorneal ring segments (ICRS) to stabilize the cornea.