I recently met a lady near Walnut Creek (in Conta Costa County) who was asking for the best corneal transplant surgeon in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her friend was located in the South Bay and San Jose and apparently was suffering from some form of degenerative corneal condition that eventually would require a corneal transplant. She was hoping to find the best surgeon to perform this procedure.
I began to quest the lady regarding the condition, which I had begun to suspect might be keratoconus. Apparently, her friend’s vision was fine until arriving into adulthood. At this time the vision deteriorated and needed to be corrected with hard contact lenses. I guess that soft contact lenses were not providing adequate vision. Her friend’s vision, however, was now becoming unsatisfactory even with hard contact lenses and she believed that a corneal transplant might be the only option now.
Her description of the patient’s symptoms sounded very much like keratoconus. I described to her the effects of keratoconus and told her that if her friend had keratoconus there was very likely to be a better option than a corneal transplant. While corneal transplants might still be performed, in the vast majority of cases, another option can either delay or prevent the need for a corneal transplant.
Many patients with keratoconus under intacs treatment. This requires placing a plastic band within the cornea which helps reinforce the cornea and can generally allow a patient with keratoconus to avoid needing a complete cornea transplant. The reinforced cornea can then often wear a hybrid contact lens designed to correct vision in a keratoconic patient. These contact lenses are part hard and part soft and are better for treating keratoconus because they provide the clear vision of a hard contact lens and the comfort of a soft contact lens.
The lady was grateful for the information a told me she would contact her friend. I am hoping that I was able to help. Keratoconus can often be a very painful and debilitating condition that requires long term care. Keratoconus patients often feel that they are not given the treatment that they require. Luckily, intacs and hybrid contact lenses have significantly improved the vision and comfort of patients with keratoconus.
If you have keratoconus or know someone who does, please contact Turner Eye Institute so that we can provide the best quality care and give them the chance to avoid a cornea transplant. There are option that exist that can provide better vision and greater comfort for patients suffering from keratoconus.