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What is Keratoconus?

KeratoconusKeratoconus is an eye disease that causes the cornea of the eye to thin out. This causes the normal spherical shape of the cornea to become irregular, and protrude in a cone-like fashion.

This irregular shape distorts the light passing through the eye, causing the person blurred vision.

Keratoconus is a progressive disease that often develops in your teens and continues to gradually worsen over time. As the disease worsens, it causes irregular astigmatism that in many cases cannot be corrected with lenses alone. The condition usually affects both eyes to some degree.

What Causes Keratoconus?

The exact cause of the corneal tissue thinning has yet to be established. Keratoconus can affect anyone, but there are a few risk factors that can increase the odds of developing the disease. These include:

  • Heredity – If someone in your family has keratoconus, your chances of developing the disease increase.
  • Overexposure to ultraviolet rays
  • Poorly fitted contacts
  • Chronic eye rubbing
  • Certain diseases, including atopic disease and connective tissue disorders
  • Down Syndrome

Treatment of keratoconus

Keratoconus treatment can be divided into three tiers:

Mild Keratoconus - For patients with mild keratoconus, glasses and soft contacts can provide immediate vision correction. However, since the disease is progressive, you will reach a point where these lenses don’t do the job anymore.

Moderate Keratoconus - When the condition worsens to a point where glasses and soft contacts are no longer an option, rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses and other specialty contact lenses are the next stage of therapy.

The rigid lens sits atop the irregular cornea and functions as the new refractive surface of the eye, with lubrication filling in the space between the back of the contact lens and the front of the eye. This is the preferred method of treatment for moderate keratoconus but there are some drawbacks. First, these lenses can be uncomfortable for many people to wear. Additionally, these lenses can be extremely difficult to fit to the eye, and can be very time-consuming, and often require frequent trips to your doctor for adjustments.

Advanced Keratoconus - Once the disease has reached a point where other options simply won’t work, then surgical options must be pursued. One such option is the insertion of Intacs®, or corneal rings. These are clear plastic rings that are inserted into the edges of the cornea, and used to re-shape and flatten the cornea to correct vision.

If all other options have been exhausted, then a patient may reach the point where a corneal transplantation is necessary.

If you are seeking Keratoconus eye specialists in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania please contact us at Regional Eye Associates at 1-304-598-3301.

For more information about Keratoconus please click here to visit the National Keratoconus Foundation.


IntacsIntacs are FDA approved to treat keratoconus. In the past, a corneal transplant would be the only option for vision correction for those with keratoconus that has progressed enough deteriorate vision and make contact lenses and glasses an intolerable option. Now Intacs corneal implants may an option to stabilize the cornea, improve vision and potentially defer the need for a corneal transplant.

Once inserted, Intacs cannot be felt by the patient and they are no more visible than contact lenses. No upkeep or maintenence is required. In many cases, the patient’s vision can be improved to the point that the glasses and contact lens requirements can be greatly reduced.

Unfortunately, not all insurances will cover the cost of this procedure. Want to learn more about Intacs and vision correction for keratoconus? Reach out to our specialists at Regional Eye Associates in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania at 1-304-598-3301.

*As with any surgical procedure there are risks along with benefits. It is important to discuss your surgical procedure with your surgeon to fully understand the risks and benefits.