Can You Get LASIK with Keratoconus?

Can You Get LASIK with Keratoconus?

May 3, 2023

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At the Kraff Eye Institute, patients often ask, "Can I get LASIK with keratoconus?"

LASIK eye surgery in Chicago is a popular vision correction procedure that can help people achieve better vision without needing glasses or contact lenses. Unfortunately, patients with keratoconus are not eligible for LASIK surgery. This blog will discuss why this is the case and the alternatives to LASIK for those with keratoconus.

Understanding Keratoconus

Understanding Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a degenerative corneal disease in which the usually round cornea (the front surface of the eye) thins and begins to bulge outward into a cone-like shape.

This irregular shape prevents the normal refraction of light into the eye and distorts vision. Keratoconus can cause:

  • Glare
  • Distorted vision
  • Nearsightedness
  • Astigmatism
  • Vision impairment.

Treatment for keratoconus depends on the severity of the condition. So, can LASIK fix keratoconus? Unfortunately, no.

Why Is LASIK Unsuitable for Keratoconus?

LASIK is a laser vision correction procedure that reshapes the cornea to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Keratoconus is a degenerative disease that thins the cornea and causes an abnormal shape, which cannot be rectified with laser eye surgery.

Laser refractive surgery procedures, such as LASIK, can cause weakening of the cornea that is already thinning. In some cases, LASIK can worsen the condition by making the cornea thinner. Therefore, LASIK for keratoconus is not possible, as it could lead to unpredictable changes in the shape of the cornea and, consequently, loss of vision.

What Are Keratoconus Treatment Options?

What Are Keratoconus Treatment Options?

Although LASIK and keratoconus are a no-go, other treatment options include:

  • Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking (CXL): Utilizes Ultraviolet light and riboflavin drops to strengthen the cornea;
  • Corneal Transplant: A last resort for advanced cases of keratoconus;  
  • Corneal Graft: Using donor tissue to replace the damaged tissue in the cornea;  
  • Corneal Ring Segments: Small plastic rings are inserted into the cornea to help reshape it and reduce distortion;   
  • Corneal Reshaping: Using rigid contact lenses to reshape the cornea.   

What Is Corneal Cross-linking (CXL) Surgery?

At the Kraff Eye Institute, we often recommend CXL surgery - a minimally invasive procedure - to improve vision for patients who suffer from keratoconus.

CXL uses a combination of ultraviolet light and vitamin B2 eye drops to create new collagen fibers, increasing the cornea's rigidity and strength, thus preventing further thinning.

This is the only treatment that can stop progressive keratoconus from worsening and may help to avoid a corneal transplant.

Who Is Suitable for CXL Surgery?

Who Is Suitable for CXL Surgery?

It's best to consult your eye doctor to determine if CXL is a suitable treatment option.

Generally, patients who exhibit the following characteristics can have CXL:

  • Between 24 to 35 years old;
  • Who have relatively mild keratoconus (without corneal scarring);
  • Those with mild corneal thinning (ideally, the thinnest corneal tissue should be greater than 450 µm);
  • Who has documented the progression of keratoconus over the past 6 to 12 months.

The Process for Scheduling Keratoconus Treatment

The process for scheduling eye surgery for keratoconus begins with a comprehensive eye exam by one of our ophthalmologists. During this exam, they will assess the condition of your eyes and determine the best course of treatment.

Depending on the severity of the condition and your overall health, we may recommend various treatments, including corrective lenses, contact lenses, corneal cross-linking, corneal transplant. 

Schedule a free consultation and get your cornea carefully examined at our Chicago practice today!

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Dr. Colman R. Kraff

Committed to advancing new technologies in the field of ophthalmology, Dr. Colman Kraff helped to pioneer laser vision correction. In February of 1991, as part of a five-site, U.S., FDA clinical trial team, Dr. Kraff successfully performed the first excimer laser procedures in the Chicagoland area using the VISX Excimer Laser.

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