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Complex Cornea from Keratoconus

So, you have keratoconus. And now your doctor says you have cataracts. What’s next? Can cataracts be successfully treated when other corneal conditions such as keratoconus are present? The short answer is “yes” but there is more to know.

To start, let’s understand what keratoconus is.

What is keratoconus?

Keratoconus is an eye condition that affects the cornea of the eye, the clear outer layer. The cornea becomes very thin and causes the shape of the cornea to change. Progressive thinning causes a cone-shaped bulge to develop near the center of the cornea, which is typically where the thinning is most pronounced.

What is Complex Cornea?

When the shape of the cornea and/or ocular history as it relates to the cornea makes treating a cataract more complex, we refer to it as Complex Cornea. There are three categories of Complex Cornea patients:

• Previous corneal surgery
• Genetically acquired corneal irregularity
• Corneal disease (such as keratoconus) or trauma to the eye

Can I have cataract surgery if I have keratoconus?

 In most cases, patients with keratoconus can undergo cataract surgery. While keratoconus affects the cornea of the eye, cataracts affect the natural lens of the eye. Cataract surgery involves removing the natural lens clouded with a cataract and replacing it with an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens, or IOL.

Many patients who need cataract surgery are considered to have Complex Corneas and keratoconus is only one cause. Elevated complexity may affect the selection and lens power of an IOL and may make patients ineligible for certain traditional premium lenses. For patients with keratoconus, even after a cataract is removed, having a Complex Cornea will continue to influence their vision post-cataract surgery.

Each patient is unique, and an eye doctor must treat patients with both keratoconus and cataracts on a case-by-case basis. While it’s true that a Complex Cornea can present some unique challenges, new technologies are emerging to improve the quality of vision for patients with these conditions.

References and more information:

https://www.eyeworld.org/handling-patients-keratoconus-who-need-cataract-surgery
https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/corneal-cross-linking-for-keratoconus#1
https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/keratoconus/