Keratoconus Care Clinic

Keratoconus Care Clinic

Keratoconus is a progressive condition in which the front of the eye (the cornea), protrudes in a cone shape causing thinning of the corneal tissue. This results in reduced and distorted vision. Once a patient is diagnosed with Keratoconus, it is important to monitor their vision and corneal shape regularly.

The rate and degree of progression is different for every patient. Therefore, it is impossible to tell how fast or slow changes may occur. Sometimes, years go by and patients experience very little change. For others, drastic changes can occur in as little as a few months. Because every person’s visual needs are different, The Keratoconus Care Clinic aims to tailor appropriate individual treatment to stabilise vision. Regular monitoring using state of the art equipment is required to ensure treatment is instigated at appropriate stages of the condition.

Please note: All new referrals for Keratoconus are required to have an initial consultation with Dr Andrew Apel. Once the condition is confirmed, and nature established, ongoing appointments to monitor the condition may be made with our Clinical Optometrists at the Keratoconus Care Clinic. If changes are detected, the patient may be asked to see Dr Andrew Apel to discuss treatment options. Ongoing review appointments are usually every 6 months (unless specified otherwise).

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of keratoconus is confirmed after symptoms of distorted or reduced vision are linked with characteristic findings by examination of the cornea.

Refraction

This technique corrects vision distortion typically caused by the irregular shaped corneal surface. From this, glasses or contact lenses may be prescribed. Patients with keratoconus tend to have higher levels of astigmatism in their prescription.

Non-invasive Corneal Topography

This technique records the degree and extent of deformation by mapping the corneal surface, and is a benchmark for assessing progression rate.

Corneal Thickness (Pachymetry)

As keratoconus progresses, the cornea thins. This procedure quantifies the thickness of corneal tissue, and is another benchmark for monitoring progression rate.

Treatment

Glasses

Often glasses help in the early stages, but may need changing frequently. As the condition progresses, even with the best glasses prescription, vision may be distorted and blurry as the lenses may vary significantly between the two eyes.

Contact lenses

Soft contact lenses may not improve vision adequately. Rigid contact lenses have the ability to better compensate for the cornea’s irregular shape, and are often a more suitable option to correct vision in keratoconic patients.

Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking

This revolutionary new treatment for keratoconus stabilises vision and delays initial progression of the condition. The procedure uses Riboflavin (vitamin B 2 ) and ultraviolet light (UVA 365nm) exposure, which strengthens the cross-links or bonds between collagen fibres in the cornea. This stabilises the cornea and halts progressive thinning.

As of 1st May 2017, Medicare approved an item number for the Cross-linking procedure, helping to significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients. This is an outpatient procedure, which is subject to the Medicare Safety Net.  For more information on the Medicare Safety Net, visit the information page here.

This procedure is performed at both our Brisbane and Ipswich practices.

Corneal Transplant

10-25% of keratoconus cases progress to a point where vision correction with glasses or contact lenses is no longer possible. These cases may require a corneal transplant, which involves removing the thinned, distorted corneal tissue, and replacing it with healthy, regular donor corneal tissue. For more information about Corneal Transplants at The Eye Health Centre, click here.