Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. The cornea is the clear, central part of the surface of the eye. In patients with keratoconus, the cone-shaped cornea deflects light and causes distorted vision.
Keratoconus often begins to develop between the teen years and the early 20s, although it can develop at any age. Changes in the shape of the cornea occur gradually, usually over several years. Patients with keratoconus often experience blurred and distorted vision, nearsightedness, and a glaring sensitivity to light.
Early stages of keratoconus can be treated with eyeglasses or soft contact lenses. For progressive keratoconus, treatment methods include rigid gas-permeable contact lenses, INTACS (plastic implants that flatten the cornea), and collagen cross-linking (light-activated vitamin eye drops). If keratoconus persists, corneal transplant surgery can be performed to correct the condition.
Ocular herpes is a disease of the eye caused by infection with the herpes simplex virus. Usually affecting only one eye, common symptoms of ocular herpes include inflammation, redness, tearing and sensitivity to light. In severe cases, it can scar the cornea and result in significant vision loss or blindness.
There is no cure for ocular herpes. Once a person experiences an outbreak, there is a good chance the condition will recur. The next time, the herpes symptoms might appear several weeks later or it may remain dormant for years before another flare-up occurs.
Treatment for ocular herpes often involves the use of antiviral eye drops, oral medications or corticosteroid eye drops.
Pterygium is a benign growth of the conjunctiva (lining of the white part of the eye) that grows into the cornea, which covers the iris (colored part of the eye). It can eventually lead to impaired vision.
Patients with pterygium often first notice the condition because of the appearance of a lesion on their eye or because of dry, itchy irritation. Other symptoms include dryness, redness, irritation, inflammation, and tearing. In more severe cases, the pterygium grows over the pupil and limits vision.
The most common pterygium treatment is eye drops (artificial tears) and use of sunglasses. In more severe cases when vision is impaired, surgery may be recommended.
Shingles is a condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is responsible for chickenpox. Commonly resulting in rashes on one side of the body, shingles can also affect the eyes. The virus can remain in the body for many years and will occasionally strike the nerves around the eyes. This often produces extreme pain on one side of the face, a rash or redness developing in the eye region or on the forehead, eye redness, inflammation of the eye and vision problems. If left untreated, ocular shingles can lead to scarring, glaucoma or major vision loss in some patients.
Shingles of the eye is often successfully treated with antiviral eye drops or pills to be taken orally. However, if the medication is not taken within the first few days of the appearance of symptoms, it may not be effective. In some cases, steroid eye drops may be prescribed as well to relieve swelling.
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a rare condition involving a severe adverse reaction to certain medications or infections. It may begin with symptoms similar to those of the flu, and can lead to skin loss or death if left untreated. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome frequently involves the eyes, resulting in inflammation, irritation and dryness. In some cases, damage to the tissue of the conjunctiva or cornea may be severe, causing scarring and ultimately blindness.
Treatments for ocular problems relating to Stevens-Johnson Syndrome typically involve clearing up infections that result from the condition and keeping the eyes well lubricated through the use of ointments or artificial tears. Some patients may require special contact lenses to protect the eyes from developing corneal abrasions due to changes the condition produces to the eyelids and eyelashes. For other patients, a corneal transplant or amniotic membrane transplant may be necessary to preserve vision.