Living with Keratoconus and Light Sensitivity

Progressive vision loss is not the only symptom experienced by people living with keratoconus. Photophobia (light sensitivity) is another symptom that can interfere with normal activities in people living with this cornea disorder. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), keratoconus symptoms often develop around puberty and the corneas in both eyes are typically affected. Meanwhile, sensitivity to sunlight can lead people with keratoconus to avoid outdoor activities that boost overall health.

The professionals of the Precision Keratoconus Center can assist you in determining how to cope with your photophobia and other symptoms of keratoconus.

Fluorescent Lighting in the Workplace and Keratoconus

Spending lengthy periods of time at a computer can increase light sensitivity-induced eye pain in a keratoconus-afflicted person with occasional photophobia. If professional responsibilities require daily hours of reading from a computer screen or mobile device, this can interfere with adequately performing your normal workplace role.

The following are three of the workplace accommodations suggested by the Job Accomodation Network specifically for keratoconus-afflicted employees who experience photophobia:

  • Consider the use of floor-to-ceiling cubical walls (in a cubicle-based work environment) so that fluorescent light is blocked from reaching the employee’s work-station.
  • Consider installing filters in fluorescent lighting fixtures to reduce the negative effects of fluorescent lighting (that are linked to light sensitivity).
  • Allow the employee to work from home (or another location) as needed where that employee can control the overhead lighting;

There are other causes of photophobia besides keratoconus, and people who have frequent migraine headaches often experience photophobia. A brain injury or concussion can also cause photophobia. Therefore – if you are someone affected by photophobia – keratoconus may not be the only cause of your light sensitivity.

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Light Sensitivity and Issues Related to Driving a Motor Vehicle

The following are three keratoconus symptoms included on the website of Johns Hopkins University that can especially impact the safe operation of a motor vehicle:

  1. Glare and halos around lights;
  2. Difficulty seeing at night;
  3. Sudden worsening or clouding of vision

For keratoconus-afflicted people with photophobia, utilizing sunglasses on a sunny day when driving a car is crucial in order to drive safely. Even when wearing contact lenses or eyeglasses to correct vision, light sensitivity and cornea pain can make driving an automobile more dangerous for yourself and others. (Sudden blurriness also occurs in some people with keratoconus, and this can interfere with the ability to operate a motor vehicle regardless of whether the day is sunny.)

Night-time driving can be especially problematic for keratoconus-afflicted people with photophobia, as motor vehicle headlights can be temporarily blinding to someone with light sensitivity. If you have keratoconus, it is important to recognize your limitations and adapt your lifestyle accordingly – especially in regard to driving a motor vehicle.

Five Common Treatments for Keratoconus

The following are the five most common treatments for keratoconus (per

  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses (to correct visual acuity).
  • Specialized contact lenses (e.g., scleral contact lenses) – can reduce keratoconus-related experience of “dry eyes”.
  • Surgical implantation of intracorneal ring segments.
  • Collagen cross-linking.
  • Corneal transplantation.

While some keratoconus-afflicted people eventual progress to legal blindness, many people do not become legally-blind before this cornea disorder ceases to progress at around age 40. For young adults living with keratoconus, fear of legal blindness can impact decisions related to career and family more than the actual keratoconus symptoms.

Consulting with the staff at the Precision Keratoconus Center can assist you in learning more about your treatment options.

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