Eyes are the primary sources of vision that enable us to see, observe and enjoy the world around us. The internal structure of eye is complex with various nerves, blood vessels, tissues, etc. The major components of eye’s structure include cornea, retina, lens, vitreous humor, aqueous humor, etc. Any disturbance in the functionality of these structure leads to visual impairment, either temporary or permanent.
Cornea is a dome-shaped anterior layer of eye, which helps to focus light and maintain visual quality. It is one of the most important structures to filter the visible light and allow it to the most sensitive posterior chambers of the eye. Some of the commonly found corneal diseases include Keratitis, Ocular Herpes, Corneal ulcer, corneal disorders like Keratoconus, Irregular Astigmatism, Map Dot Fingerprint dystrophy, Fuchs’s Dystrophy, traumatic conditions, allergic diseases like Keratoconjunctivitis, inflammations, etc. In this article, let us discuss further on Keratoconus, one of the most commonly found vision threatening corneal conditions, common among youth.
Keratoconus is a condition where the dome-shaped curvature of cornea thins and attains a conical shape. This causes protrusion of cornea outside the eye which looks like a cone. It is a specific condition where the symptoms like blurred vision, distorted vision, astigmatism, double vision, inability to see in dim light, nearsightedness, sensitivity to light, discoloration in the frontal areas of the eye, etc are noticed during the puberty or early teens and progresses further with age. During clinical assessment, allergic conjunctivitis is also commonly observed. If the symptoms are left untreated, the condition progresses and may even lead to vision loss. The stages of Keratoconus can be classified as nipple conus, oval conus, and globus conus
The advancements in the field of Ophthalmological instrumentation have made the diagnosis of Keratoconus effective, accurate and simple. The curvature of cornea is measured using Topography. Other diagnostic tools include physical examination by an Ophthalmologist using a slit lamp ophthalmoscope, computerized videokeratography, Ultrasound pachymetry, Measurement of K Values, etc. In most of the cases, myopia with astigmatism and Keratoconus are often confused as the primary condition of the patient stands similar. This delays the diagnosis and hence the aggravation happens.
Though the exact cause for Keratoconus is unknown, frequent and extreme rubbing of the eyes due to allergy is clinically found to be an aggravation factor. While rubbing, the bond between the corneal layers gets disturbed and hence it has to be avoided. A few risk factors include the individuals suffering from high myopia and/ or amblyopia since childhood, family history of refractive errors, history of inflammatory and allergic diseases, exposure to UV radiation, etc.
The following image describes the visual perception of an image with normal cornea and conical cornea due to Keratoconus.
Structure of Cornea in Normal and Keratoconus Condition
There are various treatment modalities applicable from subclinical marginal Keratoconus to extreme stage where corneal thinning is severe. Ayurveda treatment protocols, fresh herbal medicines, eye exercises, etc that we practice at Sreedhareeyam Ayurvedic Eye Hospital and Research Centre are found to be effective in the management of the condition Keratoconus. The treatments like Sodhana (purificatory therapy) and Kriyakalpa (external ocular therapy) and internal medicines help to nourish the cornea and prevent further progression of corneal thinning. Gradually, the corneal layers can be nurtured, thereby resulting in reduced visual impairments. Hence the clinical outcomes are evidential to realize the potential of Ayurveda in the management and treatment of Keratoconus.