Adjusting to wearing eyeglasses in adolescence may be easy compared to the ongoing reduction in eyesight during adulthood experienced by many people with keratoconus. Keratoconus-related nearsightedness (myopia) and astigmatism often worsen between the ages of 20-40. In turn, this can make replacing your eyeglasses or contact lenses a more common occurrence than in adults without keratoconus. Meanwhile, the possibility of future legal blindness without corrective surgery looms large in front of many adults with keratoconus. Therefore, adapting to living with a progressive corneal disorder and understanding your options to maintain eyesight are necessary.
Described below are three ways to adapt to persistently-worsening vision if you are a young adult with keratoconus. (A cone-shaped, thin cornea – linked to both nearsightedness and astigmatism – is the typical feature associated with keratoconus, per an article in BioMed Research International). The professionals at the Precision Keratoconus Center may be able to assist you to understand whether contact lens utilization and/or eye surgery can improve your eyesight.
Organize Your Medicine Cabinet to Reduce the Likelihood of Incorrect Medication Ingestion
The National Capital Poison Center notes that at least 300,000 people each year contact a poison control center due to ingesting the wrong medication. Poor eyesight is one of the foremost reasons that this “at home” incorrect drug ingestion occurs. People unable to correctly read their drug labels due to an uncorrected astigmatism (causing blurry vision) are at higher risk of making this type of mistake, and a progressively-worsening astigmatism is common in people living with a corneal disorder.
Organizing your medicine cabinet so that you know where you placed each item (including each medication container) can reduce the likelihood of mistakenly ingesting the wrong medication or other substance in your medicine cabinet. In addition, organizing your entire home in a way to prevent tripping over small objects that you have difficulty seeing due to poor eyesight is also advisable.
Use a Larger-Sized Mobile Device or Computer Screen to Avoid Eye Strain
The Vision Council reports that 32.4 percent of all people in the US who utilize digital devices at least two consecutive hours per day experience eye strain (and 27.2 percent experience “dry eyes”). Notably, people with nearsightedness and intermittent “dry eyes” due to keratoconus are at an especially increased risk of experiencing eye strain and “dry eyes” when reading web-content from a mobile device or small computer screen.
Light-sensitivity is also common in keratoconus-afflicted people (with resultant blurred vision), and the glare of a digital device screen or computer screen can produce even more eye strain symptoms in a person with keratoconus than someone without this eye disorder.
“Blue light” exposure from digital devices and computer screens has been linked to a decreased rate of corneal epithelial cells, as well as worsened nearsightedness (per an article in 2018 in the International Journal of Ophthalmology). Therefore, using a “blue light” filter over the digital device or computer screen if you have keratoconus is recommended. Meanwhile, night-time “blue-light” exposure from digital devices and computer screens exacerbates both eye strain and the negative effect of “blue light” exposure (e.g., “dry eyes”).
Decrease Daily Reliance on Driving a Motor Vehicle
Blurred vision and “halos” are experienced by many people with keratoconus (per Duke University’s DukeHealth). If you commute daily to work by driving your car – but live in an urban area with public transportation – switching to commuting by public transportation is a good idea if your poor eyesight may preclude an upcoming renewal of your driver’s license. Even if you do not live in a geographic area with public transportation, carpooling with other employees or utilizing a ride-share service may be an option.
While your ability to operate a motor vehicle may be legal if you are wearing your corrective lenses, it may not be a safe choice if your distance vision with your current lenses does not enable you to clearly see a pedestrian several feet ahead of you. Therefore, planning in advance how you can commute to your job if your worsening vision prevents you from driving is a good idea.
Utilizing Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses or scleral lenses may enable you to maintain your eyesight (and corneal cross-linking is one of the surgical interventions used to improve vision in people with keratoconus). The Precision Keratoconus Center has many sites across the US, and one may be not far from your home.