The symptoms of keratoconus sometimes do not differ much from other refractive disorders such as myopia or hyperopia. Initially, a person may simply find that their refractive prescription changes frequently. Other symptoms may include:
If keratoconus is suspected, an ophthalmologist will perform a slit lamp examination. They will also measure the curvature of the cornea using an instrument called a keratometer.
Other diagnostic tools include technology that allows an ophthalmologist to map out 3D models of the cornea – this is called corneal topography. This creates a detailed map of the shape of the cornea and allows early detection of subtle changes.
In the early stages of keratoconus, spectacles may be all that is required to correct the visual aspects of the disorder, but other treatment such as collagen cross-linking may also be necessary to prevent further progression of the disease.
Early crosslinking will halt or slow the progression of keratoconus, making the correction of the vision easier in the long term. As the disease progresses, rigid (hard) contact lenses may be prescribed. These are made from a special material that allows the contact lens to ’vault’ over the cornea, minimising the effect of the irregular shape and improving vision.
Other treatments include:
Keratoconus will typically progress until a person is in their late 20s or early 30s. The younger the person, the more rapidly it will progress. That is why early detection and treatment is important.