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According to the National Keratoconus Foundation, one out of every 2,000 people is affected by keratoconus, a degenerative eye disease that affects the cornea. Normally round, the cornea starts to thin and bulge, taking on a cone-like shape. This irregular curvature impairs the way light enters the eye and is focused onto the retina, and therefore causes poor vision.

Laser Eye Center treats a variety of eye disorders, including keratoconus, at our full-service Los Angeles practice. Although we are known for All Laser LASIK, which corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, we also offer a variety of other treatments to assist patients with all of their eye care needs.


The etiology of keratoconus is complex, and experts believe that it may be caused by one of several factors. It could arise due to a genetic predisposition. It has been linked with conditions like Down syndrome and Turner’s syndrome. It is also believed that environmental elements — such as overexposure to UV rays — may cause you to be at a greater risk. Other supposed causes include excessive eye rubbing, poorly fitted contact lenses and chronic eye irritation.

Keratoconus symptoms typically appear in a person’s late teens to early 20s. Symptoms may be present in one or both eyes. Symptoms include:

  • Blurry, distorted vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Glare
  • Loss of best-corrected vision


Our doctors review each patient’s symptoms and medical history and perform a comprehensive eye exam during the diagnostic stage. Other tests may be used, including computerized corneal mapping to analyze the curvature of the cornea and look for topographic patterns. The slit-lamp test is also common, and involves directing a beam of light onto the surface of the patient’s eye and examining the eye with a microscope.

Once a diagnosis of keratoconus has been confirmed, treatment options are presented and discussed.



In the early stages of keratoconus, glasses and soft contact lenses can correct vision. As the cornea progressively weakens and vision worsens, our doctors recommend rigid gas permeable contact lenses. These lenses, which create a smooth surface through which light can be properly refracted, are custom fitted for the best results. Our doctors measure the eye’s surface, which provides information about the tear film, corneal curvature, eye structure and refractive data. The information is then used to create a custom pair of hard contact lenses. We recommend frequent checkups to fine-tune the fit and your prescription and ensure the success of hard contact lenses.


Intacs are C-shaped plastic polymer rings that are inserted into the cornea to improve vision in patients with keratoconus. This minimally invasive, 15-minute procedure is done using just topical anesthetic eye drops. Intacs work by flattening the steep area of the keratoconic cornea, thus improving vision for patients that not long ago did not have any options. Improvement in myopia and astigmatism can be realized using this procedure, providing a long-term visual solution. Decreased dependence on glasses or contacts is the goal of Intacs, with some patients even becoming completely free of the need for vision correction. Of course, results depend on the degree of keratoconus and the extent to which the disease has affected vision.

The results of the Intacs procedure are immediate, but it may take a few weeks for optimal clarity. The implants are not visible to the average person, and are not felt by the patient. If necessary, the Intacs can be completely removed in the future if the patient’s prescription is to change. The old Intacs are simply swapped for new ones.


Corneal crosslinking has also emerged as a viable treatment modality. This procedure strengthens the corneal tissue with riboflavin, a type of vitamin B. Corneal crosslinking can be combined with other therapies for sufficient results.

In rare cases where the patient cannot tolerate hard lenses and other treatments are ineffective, corneal transplant becomes necessary.


If your vision is compromised and you cannot see clearly without glasses or contact lenses, visit us at Laser Eye Center for a professional eye exam. We can screen you for keratoconus and other common eye disorders, and discuss treatment options. Please call us at to schedule a free consultation today.