Coping with Keratoconus: Strategies for Managing Common Symptoms

Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that affects the shape of the cornea, causing it to become thin and bulge out into a cone shape. This can result in various vision-related symptoms, including halos, glare, flares, smears, overlapping images, multiple images, streaking, and starbursts. While there is no cure for keratoconus, there are several strategies that people with the condition can use to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Understanding the Symptoms of Keratoconus

Before we dive into strategies for managing keratoconus symptoms, it’s important to understand what they are and how they can affect your vision. Halos, for example, are circles of light that appear around objects, especially in low-light conditions. Glare refers to a bright, uncomfortable sensation that can be caused by sources of light, such as headlights or sunlight. Streaking is a symptom where lights appear to have streaks or lines coming off them, and starbursts refer to a sensation where lights appear to have rays or spikes emanating from them. Flare occurs when light scatters in the eye, causing a hazy or cloudy effect. Smearing, overlapping images, and multiple images can make it difficult to see clearly. Most people with keratoconus will experience worse symptoms in one eye as keratoconus is typically asymmetric, and in some cases, only one eye will experience these symptoms. 

Tips for Managing Keratoconus Symptoms

While keratoconus can be a challenging condition to live with, several strategies can help reduce the impact of its symptoms. We call this approach Keratoconus 1,2,3. 

  1. Stopping Progression with Crosslinking: Though crosslinking is not designed to improve your quality of vision, this treatment is used to prevent keratoconus progression. It preserves your vision and keeps it from progressively deteriorating. 
  1. Improving Corneal Topography with Keratoconus Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to manage the symptoms of keratoconus. Procedures such as Intacs, also known as intracorneal ring segments, topography guided PRK, corneal tissue addition keratoplasty (CTAK), or corneal transplant surgery may be recommended to help recontour your cornea’s shape and lead to improved vision with and without glasses
  1. Correcting Vision with Keratoconus Contact Lenses: The most common approach to improving keratoconus vision is the use of specialty contact lens lenses. These include custom soft lenses, hybrid lenses, RPG lenses, piggyback lenses, and scleral lenses. These specialized keratoconus contact lenses can be designed to help correct the distorted vision caused by keratoconus and reduce symptoms such as halos, overlapping images, multiple images, streaking, and starbursts.

Living with Keratoconus

Living with keratoconus can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. Here are some tips for coping with the condition and maintaining your overall health and well-being:

  1. Seek out a specialist: If you have been diagnosed with keratoconus, it’s important to work closely with an eye doctor who specializes in the condition. A specialist can provide expert guidance on managing your symptoms, recommend treatments that are right for you, and monitor your progress over time. The CLEI Center for Keratoconus is recognized worldwide as a leader in treating keratoconus. They were the first dedicated center to the treatment and research of keratoconus. They were the leaders of the clinical trials that led to the approval of crosslinking in the United States. The doctors at The CLEI Center for Keratoconus have written numerous publications and given thousands of lectures to their colleagues on keratoconus management. Uniquely, they have been recognized by the National Keratoconus Foundation (NKCF) every year since the inception of the NKCF Top Doctor Award in 2017. The award is given to doctors who contribute significantly to care and research in keratoconus. In fact, The CLEI Center for Keratoconus is the only eye care center in the world with more than one doctor honored with the NKCF Top Doctor Award. The team at the CLEI Center for Keratoconus are experts in all aspects of keratoconus care. Everything from diagnostics, crosslinking, surgery, and contact lenses are under one roof. You can be sure you are seeing the true experts in the field.
  1. Find ways to cope: Coping with keratoconus can be challenging, but it’s important to find ways to manage your symptoms and maintain your quality of life. This may include wearing corrective lenses, handling eye allergies, not rubbing your eyes, and changing your work environment. Support groups can also be a valuable source of support and understanding, but it’s important to be cautious and use them for support only, as they may contain false information or unproven recommendations. Always consult with your eye doctor before trying any new treatments or strategies for managing your symptoms. In addition, seeking professional help from a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or therapist may help manage the emotional impact of living with a chronic health condition.
  1. Take care of your mental health: Dealing with a chronic health condition like keratoconus can be stressful and emotionally challenging. It’s important to take care of your mental health by seeking support from friends and family, practicing stress-reducing activities like meditation or yoga, and considering therapy or counseling if you’re struggling to cope. Taking care of your mental health can help you better manage your symptoms and maintain a positive outlook.
  1. Utilize resources: The National Keratoconus Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides information and support to individuals living with keratoconus. They offer resources such as a helpline, online support groups, and educational materials on the condition. Utilizing resources like these can help you better understand your condition and connect with others who are going through similar experiences.

In conclusion, living with keratoconus can be challenging, but there are many strategies and resources available to help you manage your symptoms and maintain your overall health and well-being. By working closely with a specialist like those at The CLEI Center for Keratoconus, finding ways to cope, taking care of your mental health, and utilizing resources like the National Keratoconus Foundation, you can live a fulfilling and meaningful life with keratoconus.

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