Dr. Sandra Belmont is a cornea specialist and has done extensive research on keratoconus. There is still no explanation for what causes this disorder, but Dr. Belmont has pioneered studies designed to find a biochemical explanation for keratoconus. She has also conducted research designed to determine the best options for vision improvement, corneal transplants, and overall treatment or keratoconus.
What is keratoconus?
Keratoconus is the vision disorder caused by a thinning of the cornea which results in the formation of a rounded cone shape bulge. The cornea serves to control, focus, and refract light entering the eye onto the retina. When the cornea is misshapen, light is distorted which negatively impacts an individual’s vision. The smallest corneal irregularity can impair vision, even in those individuals with otherwise perfectly functioning eyes. The cause of keratoconus is unknown, but some research suggests potential causes are genetic, environmental (injury/allergies), or hormonal.
What are the symptoms of keratoconus?
In the early stages (which tend to fall between adolescence and early adulthood) the disorder causes blurring, distortion, and increased sensitivity to light. It can take 10-20 years for keratoconus to progress, but as it progresses, the corneal bulge becomes more significant, further distorting vision. There is currently no way to stop the progression of keratoconus, but severe vision loss only occurs in rare cases when swelling from the cone-like protrusion of the cornea causes a tiny crack to develop. The crack will eventually heal, and eye drops can be provided for relief. In most cases, the disorder resolves itself before adulthood.
How can keratoconus be treated?
Most treatment for keratoconus is palliative, and merely corrects the vision problems which arise as a result of the disease with glasses or contact lenses. While vision correction is necessary, most individuals with keratoconus should not have LASIK surgery. Most cases of keratoconus resolve themselves after a few years without causing permanent vision damage. However, a small number of cases require surgery. Keratoconus surgery is a corneal transplant, which has been successful in 90% of advanced keratoconus cases.