what is corneal ectasia types and treatments

What is Corneal Ectasia? Types and Treatments

Welcome to our exploration of corneal ectasia, a serious eye condition. This blog delves into the complexities of corneal ectasia, its numerous types, and the treatment options recommended by eye specialists in Calgary.  

We hope to shed light on the necessity of understanding the subtle aspects of this eye condition and the various approaches associated with its management as we explore its complexities. Join us on this informative journey as we learn about the complexities of corneal ectasia and the treatment choices available.

What is Corneal Ectasia?

Corneal ectasia is defined by the weakening and thinning of the cornea, which results in a deformed shape. In ectatic situations, the cornea, which is usually dome-shaped, becomes more conical. This shape change can cause visual problems such as unclear or distorted vision, light sensitivity, and an increase in astigmatism.

Types of Corneal Ectasia


  • It is the most common form of corneal ectasia. It usually begins in youth or early adulthood.
  • The cornea gradually thins and becomes cone-shaped, resulting in unclear and distorted vision.
  • Keratoconus patients often have increased sensitivity to light and glare.

Pellucid Marginal Degeneration (PMD)

  • PMD is a rare but distinct type of corneal ectasia that affects the outermost, or border, of the cornea.
  • PMD, like keratoconus, causes corneal thinning, resulting in uneven astigmatism and visual abnormalities.

Post-LASIK Ectasia

  • Ectasia is a rare side effect of laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery.
  • It often occurs several years after the procedure, causing progressive corneal thinning. 


If you experience these symptoms, visit an eye doctor promptly for a complete checkup. Typical signs of corneal ectasia are:

  • Blurred or distorted vision 
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription 
  • Increased sensitivity to light (Photophobia)
  • Halos and glare 
  • Double vision, also known as Diplopia
  • Irregular astigmatism
  • Eye strain or fatigue 
  • Conceal scarring  on the cornea


Corneal ectasia is mainly caused by corneal thinning and weakening; however, the particular causes of this weakening might differ. The following are the two most common causes of corneal ectasia:

  • Keratoconus
  • Corneal refractive surgery (e.g., LASIK)

Other factors that may contribute to corneal ectasia or increase the risk include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Chronic eye irritation
  • Excessive eye rubbing
  • Connective tissue disorders

If corneal ectasia has been observed, it is essential to consult with an ophthalmologist in Calgary for a comprehensive evaluation and proper treatment.

Treatment Options

Glasses and Contact Lenses

Individuals suffering from corneal ectasia can discover alleviation through the use of eyeglasses or contact lenses in the early stages. RGP (rigid gas permeable) lenses can help offer a smooth, regular surface for better vision.

Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL)

Corneal cross-linking is a minimally invasive corneal strengthening treatment. It entails applying riboflavin (vitamin B2) drops to the cornea before being exposed to ultraviolet light. This encourages the development of new cross-links in the corneal collagen, increasing its stability.

Intrastromal Corneal Ring Segments (ICRS)

ICRS, also known as corneal implants or inserts, are small plastic rings that are inserted into the cornea to reshape and support it. This can assist in increasing your vision while also slowing the progression of corneal ectasia.

Corneal Transplant (Keratoplasty)

A corneal transplant can be explored in severe cases where alternative treatments have failed. The injured cornea is replaced with a healthy donor cornea during this treatment.

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