NOVEMBER is supposedly Keratoconus Awareness Month, but only few have heard about this word and fewer still are those who are aware that they are already affected by this eye disorder.
According to United State National Library of Medicine (NLM), "keratoconus is an eye condition that affects the shape of the cornea, the clear outer covering of the eye, as it thins and bulges outward, resembling a cone shape. This disorder worsens over time and can lead to nearsightedness (myopia), blurred vision that cannot be improved with corrective lenses (irregular astigmatism), and vision loss."
The NLM added that keratoconus affects one in every 500-2,000 individuals worldwide.
Dr. Lareen Dawn Tan, pediatric eye care, vision therapy expert at Global Eyecare Center, said persons with high risk of having keratoconus include those with astigmatism, especially if the astigmatism is progressing fast, thin cornea after undergoing Lasik, those with chronic dry eyes and if the disorder runs in the family.
"You can have keratoconus but you've been never checked for it so you go on with life just thinking poor lang gyud imong vision (your vision is just poor)," Dr. Tan said
Common symptoms include hypersensitivity to light, shadowy visions, blurry or distorted vision, blurrier vision when in dim-lit areas, double vision even when one eye is closed, headache, eye strain, and one eye has blurrier vision than the other.
Keratoconus can happen to anyone.
"It can happen to children three years old and older, but commonly we can diagnose the patients from childhood up to 20s or 30s na, mugawas na ilang keratoconus," Dr. Tan revealed.
Eyeglasses alone and simple or regular contact lenses can only do so much to persons with keratoconus as they only provide very minimal vision improvement.
"That's why we provide scleral lens," Dr. Tan said.
A scleral lens is a special contact lens that is worn by patient so that he can obtain clear vision at the same time preserving or lessening the thinning of the cornea, thus preventing keratoconus from exacerbating.
Scleral lenses can also be used by persons with very high refractive errors as glasses can only correct the errors minimally.
Other regular contact lenses could not provide the benefits what scleral lens can because as Dr. Tan said, "Ordinary contact lenses sit on the cornea while the scleral lens sits on the sclera so it won't touch the cornea."
Ordinary lenses will leave the cornea of keratoconus patients still cone-shaped aside from making it even thinner because these rub with the cornea.
Since there is no treatment found yet for keratoconus, the best way to preserve and to obtain a clearer vision for the patients with this eye disorder is to wear scleral lens.
However, non-genetic keratoconus can be prevented through regular visit to an eye doctor. In this way, your doctor can check and treat the eye problems that might cause or aggravate keratoconus, like chronic dry eyes and frequent eye itching and eye rubbing. Parents are also advised to monitor and keep their children from rubbing their eyes. Eating omega 3-rich food is also advised, as omega 3 is beneficial for our cornea.
Here in Davao City, Global Eyecare Center provides scleral lens for keratoconus patients. Fitting costs P10,000 exclusive of the scleral lens, which the price can be discussed during the consultation.
Global Eyecare Center is handled by a team of eye care specialists and experts, namely: Dr. Eldeen Baluso, former dean of the College of Optometry, expert in RGP lens fitting and pediatric eye care; Dr. Tan, also a 2015 Optometry Board Exam topnotcher; Dr. Tarrah Akeem Baluso, 2016 Optometry Board Exam topnotcher; Dr. Jirah Donguines, prosthetic eye expert; and Dr. Glen John Juyo, 2018 Optometry Board Exam topnotcher.
Global Eyecare Center has four branches here located in Magallanes, inside Felcris-Magsaysay Avenue, inside Gaisano Mall of Davao in JP Laurel Street (Bajada), and in Abreeza. It also established another center in Manila managed by Dr. Tarrah Akeem Baluso.
Global Eyecare Center -Abreeza is located at 2nd floor Expansion Wing, with contact numbers 0929-2279908 (Smart), 0995-4632319 (Globe), and (082) 225-9538 (landline).