Keratoconus FAQ

Will I go completely blind from Keratoconus?
No, historically very few, if any, persons suffer from total blindness from keratoconus alone. Legal blindness and partial-sightedness/low vision can occur and one's vision can be significantly impaired to the point that normal everyday activities may be difficult. This said, true blindness has to do when the retina or optic nerve have been damaged. Therefore, Keratoconus cannot directly cause blindness. Finally, if keratoconus has significantly affected your vision, there are treatment options available to help rehabilitate your eye.

Is my keratoconus going to get worse and how quickly will it change?
Keratoconus invariably does get worse in the majority of cases, however progression is difficult to predict. In some cases it changes very little from the time it is first diagnosed. In other cases, progression occurs rapidly over a relatively short period of time. The younger the patient is when keratoconus first appears, however, the more chance there is that it will progress significantly, particularly during the teenage years. It is very important to control any allergies which affect the eye during this time, so that any eye rubbing can be avoided.

Do most people have the condition in both eyes?
Most experts believe that keratoconus is always bilateral – that is, that it always affects both eyes. However, because of variability, the condition may be so mild in one eye that it is virtually undetectable. It may stay that way or the better eye may progress over time. Unfortunately, there is no way to know which will occur.

Can I have LASIK?
No, keratoconus is a corneal thinning condition and LASIK is a corneal thinning procedure. Surgically making a thin cornea thinner will weaken an already weak cornea and speed the progression of keratoconus thereby exacerbating the condition.

What are the advantages of Cross-linking procedure as compared to a corneal transplant?
A corneal transplant is an invasive surgical procedure, requiring the removal of a section of your cornea and having it replaced with donor tissue. The transplant carries risks such as infection, rejection, cataracts, glaucoma, astigmatism, failure as well as intra-operative dangers. Young Keratoconus patients are likely to need one or more repeated grafts during their lifetime. Although an extremely successful outpatient surgery, it does take 1 year to recover vision from a cornea transplant.

The Cross-linking procedure is an outpatient surgery that works by increasing collagen cross links which are the natural "anchors" within the cornea. These anchors are responsible for preventing the cornea from bulging out and becoming steep and irregular. Cross linking involves creating a superficial scratch on the cornea which is much less invasive than a cornea transplant. It is much safer than a corneal graft and takes about 1 week to heal significantly from this procedure. Having cross linking does not eliminate the possibilities of having a cornea transplant in the future. This said, patients with cornea transplants cannot have cross linking at this time.