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What to do when you have keratoconus?

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Many people freeze when they get their eye doctors's diagnosis that they have KERATOCONUS.   A lot would go into the denial stage, but the weak-hearted ones go into depression. 

Keratoconus is a progressive condition that makes the front transparent surface (cornea) of the eye thinner.  It is a disease correct, but it can be managed; and it is better to act early and not bury yourself under your sheets for a very long time.  
Chances are if you are already diagnosed to have keratoconus, you may already have a corneal map.  This map will show where the cone of your eye is and help corneal specialists and optometrists know what is the best possible management that they can recommend to you.  A detailed slitlamp examination will also reveal if you have scarring on the eye.  The size of the scar, depth and position of the scar will also help determine if you will be able to still achieve good vision with contact lenses or not.  
If your case is just starting, using glasses or regular…

Hydrops in Keratoconus

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Heard about corneal hydrops?  This is a not so common complication found in patients with advanced keratoconus.   What exactly happens when you develop corneal hydrops?  The normal average thickness of a cornea is about 550 microns.  When we were studying, our professor often says that it is thinner than a credit card.  So, a patient with keratoconus may have corneas thinner than 500 microns, the thinnest so far I have seen is about 200 some microns.  Now, when the cornea continues to thin down, some layers may break, which can cause fluid from the internal environment to leak out.  In hydrops, the Descemet's membrane, which is the 4th layer of the cornea, ruptures, when this happens, the aqueous fluid inside the eye may leak towards the stroma-- the 3rd corneal layer--- causing corneal swelling. You may develop blurring of vision, glare and pain.  When this happens, you have to quickly go to your corneal specialist who will be managing the condition.  Conservatively, acute hydrop…

Can Wearing Contact Lenses Stabilize My Keratoconus?

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When patients come to the clinic for contact lenses, many would think that contact lenses can help stabilise their keratoconus.  As much as we would like to say yes, the answer is no.  Contact lenses can only improve your vision and they do not prevent the progression of your keratoconus. It is therefore important that you consider collagen cross linking early on as this procedure makes the corneal collagen fibrils stronger and more resistant to coning, thus stabilising your condition. 

Good news though for those who have reached 30's because by the 4th decade of life, there is a natural cross-linking effect, which basically stabilises your condition.  This is the time that you can say, it is good to be 40...😀


Another common question is that if contact lenses can provide 20/20 vision.  It really depends on the severity and the condition of the cornea.  No doctor can promise you a 20/20 vision.  We can just promise that we can maximise your vision so you can be functional and get ba…

Can You Do Weight Lifting If You Have Keratoconus?

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Many patients are asking if they can still do weight lifting since they have keratoconus.  During weight lifting, in order to carry tons of weight, a powerlifter may utilise a breathing pattern which involves  Valsalva manoeuvre.  According to wikipedia, the Valsalva manoeuvre is performed by moderately forceful attempted exhalation against closed airway, usually done by closing one's mouth, pinching one's nose shut while pressing out as if blowing up a balloon. Other situations where Valsava manoeuvre is done are during diving, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, air travel and sometimes even going to the restroom doing your number 1.  
According to Findley, Keating and Toscano (2003), the Valsalva manoeuvre is commonly used in powerlifting to stabilise the trunk during activities such as squat, deadlift, and bench press.   So what happens to the cornea when Valsalva manoeuvre is done?  A study by Drun et al (2017) recorded the measurements of the corneal curvature, central corneal thi…

Eye Rubbing Due to Eye Lashes Poking The Eye

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When you asked keratoconus patients, almost all would say that they indeed had a history of eye rubbing.  I always tell patients that the eyeball is similar to a bread, when you try to use your hand to squeeze the bread, some portion will be dented.  Similar to it, the cornea, when rubbed may be dented in one area.  The difference in the curvature produced by eye rubbing can lead to astigmatism.  Eye rubbing can produce surface irregularity on the cornea and triggers keratoconus in some susceptible patients.  
Why do patients rub their eyes?  Eyes can be itchy due to allergies.  When allergies are found, it is important to rule out the cause and manage it well. Anti-histamine medicines can be taken, but if the allergy is only found on the eye,  then anti-histamine drops can be used to control the itchiness.   Sometimes, mechanical issues such as eyelashes growing inwards (photo above), which poke the cornea can cause the eye to be irritated.  Irritation of course will lead to patients …

Bubble In Scleral Lenses

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Bubbles in scleral lenses can be bothersome.  A large bubble may interfere with your vision and you will feel the lens will move more.  This happens when you insert your lens incorrectly such as when you had not filled the lens bowl completely, you moved your eye away from the lens when the lens was about to touch your cornea or your eyelid may have moved the lens down upon insertion allowing bubbles to enter the lens.  All you have to do is to reinsert the lens again. If you were having difficulty to avoid very small bubbles in the lens, then you can try to put 2 drops of Celluvisc drops in the lens bowl then fill the remaining space with non-preserved, non-buffered saline.  This will hopefully help prevent air to enter.  Happy wearing!



November 10 is WORLD KERATOCONUS DAY (WORLDKC DAY)

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November 10 is WORLDKC Day!  I tell my keratoconus patients about it and they were all surprised that there is such a day.  It is not actually a celebration that they have keratoconus, but it is  a good time to raise awareness about this disease.  
Keratoconus is a condition where the cornea becomes thinner progressively over time.  Although the real cause is unknown, it is often associated with atopic diseases, history of eye rubbing and may sometimes have a genetic role.  Symptoms of keratoconus includes blurring of vision, light sensitivity, ghosting of vision and frequent need to change the prescription.  When the central cornea is affected, patient will not be able to achieve 20/20 vision.   The younger the patient is diagnosed, the more severe the keratoconus usually is. There is a higher percentage of incidence in Asians with both genders being affected equally. The incidence was estimated to be 1 in 2000, but recent data shows that this ratio seemed to be underestimating the ac…