Keratoconus patients are suffering from a disease that weakens the collagen structure within the cornea. This results in vision with decreased clarity. Many patients with keratoconus seek out surgical vision care in order to improve their vision. Some even wonder whether LASIK can correct their vision.
I recently read a story of a Merritt Island doctor who was fined and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service for inappropriately performing Lasik surgery on a patient in 2000. According to board documents, the LASIK surgeon failed to recognize that the patient had a condition — keratoconus — that prohibits Lasik surgery.
LASIK eye surgery thins the cornea. It can also lead to a condition known as ectasia. In this condition, the cornea bulges outward as the pressure within the eye pushes on the thinned cornea. Ectasia can appear remarkably similar to keratoconus and often a patient with ectasia following LASIK surgery will be diagnosed as having keratoconus.
With a keratoconus diagnosis the patient can then sue the LASIK surgeon for malpractice in performing LASIK upon an eye with keratoconus. The question is whether the eye had keratoconus prior to LASIK or if the thinning of the cornea caused ectasia which was then diagnosed as keratoconus. Other factors can also exacerbate the condition. Some medical problems, such as uncontrolled diabetes, thyroid conditions, or collagen vascular diseases, could also weaken the cornea and result in problems following LASIK eye surgery.
Certainly any patient considering LASIK eye surgery must feel comfortable with the experience and qualifications of the surgeon that they are choosing. The higher the prescription the more thinning is required so patients with a high amount of near-sightedness would then be at a higher risk for corneal ectasia. There are in fact other options, besides LASIK, that do not thin the cornea.
While ectasia resembles keratoconus, they are not considered the same disease. Keratoconus occurs in an eye that has not had LASIK treatment. Ectasia is the bulging of the cornea that is resulting from a cornea that is too thin, perhaps caused by LASIK treatment.
Both conditions can often be treated similarly however. Some LASIK patients who are suffering from ectasia can benefit from intacs treatment to strengthen the corneal foundation. Patients undergoing intacs for ectasia are very similar to patients having intacs for keratoconus.
If you are interested in having an eye examination to determine if intacs, LASIK, or other treatment is right for you, please contact Turner Eye Institute. Turner Eye Institute is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and has vision clinics in San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, and Concord. Dr. Turner treats patients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including Oakland and Walnut Creek as well as Santa Clara, Hayward, Fremont, and other East Bay cities.