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Signs and Symptoms of Keratoconus

Very close up of woman's blue eye

Because they are often associated with other eye problems, the symptoms of keratoconus can be difficult to distinguish. Fortunately, our Toronto eye specialists are experts at diagnosing and treating this disease and many other eye conditions. Keratoconus is a bulging of the cornea that results in deterioration in vision. A rare condition, it generally begins in the late teens or early twenties but can become a concern at any age. Early signs include blurry vision and frequent eyeglass prescription changes, or vision that cannot be improved with corrective lenses. If you are experiencing these symptoms, our team of leading corneal specialists can offer advice and effective keratoconus treatment. We apply the latest technology along with our decades of combined experience to offer you an unparalleled level of care. Please contact us today to schedule an evaluation.

Possible Signs of Keratoconus

The visual changes associated with keratoconus stem from changes in the shape of the cornea. Normal corneas are dome shaped. In patients with keratoconus, the fibers that keep that shape weaken and allow the cornea to bulge out and become more conical. In addition to distorted vision and the need to frequently change prescriptions, symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Increasing sensitivity to glare and bright light
  • Sudden worsening or clouding of vision
  • Halos and ghost images
  • Eye strain and eye irritation
  • Headaches and eye pain

Patients with keratoconus can experience symptoms quite differently. They may appear gradually over a number of years, or occur more quickly and noticeably. Symptoms can stop at any given time or continue to occur indefinitely. Usually, keratoconus appears first in one eye and later in the other so that both eyes are ultimately affected.

How Keratoconus Is Diagnosed

Our doctors use a variety of instruments to examine your eyes for keratoconus. A slit lamp examination allows your doctor to see an enhanced, 3-D view of your eyes. During this type of test, you will be seated with your chin and forehead resting against bars on a lamp, which directs a narrow beam of light into your eyes. Seated facing you, your doctor can then view your eyes through the lamp's attached microscope. A corneal topography is the most sensitive exam for keratoconus and uses a computer to create a detailed map of the cornea’s surface. A keratometer (ophthalmometer) enables your doctor to see structures inside the eye, while a retinascope measures refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism).

The presence of keratoconus is indicated by:

  • Thinning of the cornea
  • The presence of a dark ring encircling the iris (Fleischer ring)
  • Stress lines in the cornea caused by stretching and thinning (Vogt’s striae)
  • Scarring at the highest point of the eye’s cone (apical scarring)

Treatment depends on the stage of keratoconus and other factors. Your doctor will thoroughly explain your treatment options once your diagnosis is confirmed. We offer a comprehensive Keratoconus Management Program that provides outstanding support for patients before, during, and after treatment.

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Only a doctor can determine whether you have keratoconus. If you are experiencing possible symptoms, please contact us to schedule a consultation.