Treatment for keratoconus

There are a number of different treatments used to combat the vision loss that keratoconus can cause. The type of treatment you need will depend on the severity and rate of progression of your keratoconus.

Glasses or soft contact lenses

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In the early stages, glasses and soft contact lenses can be used to correct blurry of distorted vision. You will most likely need to frequently change your prescription for glasses or contact lenses as the shape of your cornea changes. 

Specialised contact lenses

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As keratoconus progresses, and the shape of your cornea changes, glasses and soft contact lenses may no longer be able to correct the vision problems caused. Specialised contact lenses can be used at this point to improve vision. There are a number of different contact lenses which can be used: 

  • Rigid, gas permeable lenses

These hard contact lenses are usually the next step in treating keratoconus and can greatly improve your vision. The lenses can be made to specifically fit your cornea, and although they can be uncomfortable to start with, many people adjust well to them. 

  • Piggyback lenses

If hard contact lenses are too uncomfortable, your eye healthcare professional may suggest 'piggybacking' a hard lens on top of a soft one. 

  • Hybrid  lenses

These lenses have a hard centre and a softer edge to increase comfort for people who cannot wear hard lenses. 

  • Scleral lenses

These lenses rest on the sclera (the white part of your eye) instead of the cornea, and vault over the corneal without touching it. They are useful once keratoconus becomes advanced and the shape of the eye has significantly changed. 

Corneal collagen cross-linking

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This is a newer treatment which can be used to slow the progression of keratoconus. Your ophthalmologist will saturate your cornea with riboflavin drops and then use a special UV light to strengthen the cornea and prevent it from bulging further. 

Intacs

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These are small curved plastic devices that your ophthalmologist surgically implants in your cornea. They help to flatten the surface of your cornea, improving vision and allowing a better fit for contact lenses.

Corneal transplant

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For some people with keratoconus, the cornea may become to scarred or will not tolerate a contact lens. In these situations a corneal transplant may be required, where the patient's  damaged cornea is surgically removed and replaced with a donor's cornea. Following the transplant, patients will need to take medication to prevent transplant rejection, and will often need to wear glasses or contact lenses to provide the best vision possible.

Find out how Assistive Technology helps to manage tasks made difficult by low vision and blindness.