Choosing Eyeglasses or Contacts if You Have Keratoconus

Learning that you have keratoconus can be anxiety-provoking, and can impact your choice of corrective eyewear. If you have a vision-impaired child or teenager with keratoconus, deciding between eyeglasses or contact lenses to improve eyesight is likely to not be a simple decision. Along with myopia (nearsightedness), astigmatism is frequently diagnoses in keratoconus-afflicted people. According to an article in Scientific Reports, around 14 percent of keratoconus-afflicted people have a family history of this cornea disorder.

Described below are some of the considerations in deciding whether to choose eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct poor eyesight in yourself or your offspring when diagnosed with keratoconus. Scheduling an appointment with the Precision Keratoconus Center may aid you in deciding whether to choose eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Understanding Keratoconus and Cornea Disorders

The shape of the cornea impacts the way light strikes the cones and rods of the retina, but the cornea is abnormally-shaped in keratoconus. Instead of a round (dome-shaped) cornea, keratoconus-afflicted people have a cone-shaped cornea. It is the bulging of the cornea (and progressive thinning) that causes the light refraction to be distorted. Besides affecting eyesight, this cornea disorder can also cause eye pain, light sensitivity, and an experience of “dry eyes”.

While less common in early childhood, symptoms of keratoconus (such as myopia and astigmatism) are often identified in the 10-25 year-old age group, per the Mayo Clinic website. As a progressive disorder, a frequent change in corrective eyewear may be necessary until keratoconus progression generally ceases at around 40 years of age.

The National Keratoconus Foundation (NKF) notes that genetics, the environment, and the endocrine system are all believed to play a role in the development of keratoconus (and allergies are common in children diagnosed with keratoconus).

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“Hard” versus “Soft” Contact Lenses

Traditional contact lenses (“soft” lenses) cannot correct astigmatism, so are not usually able to correct vision acuity in people living with keratoconus. For this reason, Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses – typically called “hard” lenses – are the customary contact lenses prescribed to correct vision in people living with keratoconus. However, children and teenagers with keratoconus may not want to wear RGP contact lenses, due to the longer time involved in adapting to wearing them as compared to “soft” lenses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), improper cleaning and storing of contact lenses can also result in infection, and contact lens wear is linked to a higher risk of a cornea infection in children.Yet, having adequate eyesight (with correction of both myopia and astigmatism) is important for learning through reading and watching educational videos in elementary school, high school, and college.

Why Contact Lenses May Be a Better Choice Than Eyeglasses

Actors, dancers, and other people with physically active professions may find that eyeglasses interfere with the performance of their professional activities. Meanwhile, many teenagers experience social pressure from peers not to wear eyeglasses (or experience social ostracism for wearing eyeglasses that are not considered fashionable). In these cases, wearing RGP contact lenses on a daily basis may be a better option than wearing eyeglasses.

Corneal Cross-Linking Surgery for Keratoconus

Progressive vision loss in keratoconus-afflicted people may lead to legal blindness, and some also experience progressive corneal pain as the cornea continues to thin. Corneal cross-linking is a surgical intervention that is utilized in some keratoconus-afflicted people to strengthen the bonds in the cornea and halt the progression of this cornea disorder.

The professionals at the Precision Keratoconus Center can assist you in acquiring a better understanding of the options available to you (or your offspring) to improve eyesight if you are living with keratoconus.

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