As mentioned on our Corneal Ectasia Management page, the term corneal ectasia can refer to a group of conditions, most notably keratoconus. It is caused by irregularities in the cornea, leading to disturbances of vision as a result of astigmatism. It can also be related to irregular astigmatism that can develop after refractive surgery, such as LASIK or PRK. In either case, the cornea can continue to bulge, causing the patient’s vision to become more irregular and distorted.
Mild cases of the condition can be corrected simply with the right eyeglass prescription. If the disease has progressed beyond this stage, however, your eye specialist at Seema Eyecare will be able to diagnose the severity of your condition and recommend other treatment options.
Intacs are semi-circular rings which are inserted into the cornea. These reduce the irregularity of the cornea, allowing the patient to continue wearing their glasses or contacts. However, intacs will not stop the development of the condition, requiring some patients to receive a corneal transplant later on.
This is a fairly new procedure that involves riboflavin drops being used in conjunction with ultraviolet lighting to strengthen the cornea. The aim of this treatment is to stop the progression of keratoconus and reduce the irregularity in the cornea. After treatment, contact lenses are usually prescribed to further assist and maintain good vision.
As with any surgical procedure, some risk is associated with corneal cross-linking. The major risks are corneal haze and infection. You will be able to discuss these risks with your eye specialist and, together, determine whether this is the best option for you.
In the most severe cases, a corneal transplant may be needed. This surgical procedure is one of the oldest and most successful forms of human transplants, and donor corneas are usually readily available as there is a significant number of people who elect to specifically donate their corneas rather than other organs.
The most common transplant procedure is known as penetrating keratoplasty. In this procedure, the surgeon cuts through the abnormal cornea, removes a small disc of tissue with a circular cut, and places the donor cornea (which is sized to fit) within the opening. It is secured in place with fine stitching. Following the procedure, the patient will need to wear an eye patch and use eye medications to aid in the healing process. Follow-up visits will be needed for up to twelve months so that your eye specialists can closely monitor the progress of the donor cornea and watch for any complications that may arise.