Santa Barbara surgical specialist performs FDA-approved treatment for keratoconus
Andrea was a 25-year-old student who loved sports, until he developed a problem with his vision that made it difficult for him to see the blackboard in class, play soccer and drive at night.
Andrea knew that if his vision issues were not resolved, he could end up losing his eyesight.
Andrea was diagnosed with keratoconus, a rare eye disease that causes distortion of the corneas and bad vision. If left untreated, keratoconus can lead to blindness. Fortunately, Andrea was able to receive a procedure known as corneal cross-linking.
Corneal cross-linking is the only FDA-approved treatment for keratoconus, which halts the progression and preserves vision over time.
The procedure was performed by Dr. Douglas Katsev, founder and surgical director of Santa Barbara Eye Care. Dr. Katsev is the first surgical specialist in the Santa Barbara area to offer this treatment.
For the past two years, Dr. Katsev has been the only eye doctor in the Santa Barbara area to perform corneal cross-linking to halt the progression of keratoconus.
Keratoconus is the thinning and gradual outward bulging into a cone shape of the cornea. Most people begin developing keratoconus between ages 10 and 25. The cone shape of the cornea can cause blurred vision and a sensitivity to light and glare. The condition may progress slowly for 10 years or longer.
Keratoconus generally affects both eyes, but may affect one more than the other, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A common finding in the condition is the loss of collagen in the cornea. This can be caused by an imbalance between the production and destruction of corneal tissue by corneal cells, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“Keratoconus causes a progressive ectasia of the cornea, essentially it becomes more warped. As the cornel shape changes, the vision gets worse and harder to correct.” Dr. Katsev told the News-Press in an email.
Dr. Katsev explained that without corneal cross-linking, the disease would eventually progress to the point where not even contacts would help and a corneal transplant would have to be performed to retrieve vision.
Keratoconus is caused when the cornea is unable “to keep a normal shape that allows good vision,” said Dr. Katsev.
Corneal cross-linking is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that is for the treatment of progressive keratoconus. It is the only keratoconus treatment that can slow or halt the progression of the disease.
Cross-linking involves “the placement of a solution of riboflavin on the cornea” and shining a light on the cornea “to cause its fibers to link up and thus strengthen the cornea,” said Dr. Katsev.
The goal of the procedure is to stiffen the cornea, which prevents further progression of the condition and preserves vision.
“The procedure is now FDA-approved, and insurance will cover the procedure. It is important to diagnose keratoconus early (starting at late teens ) and receive treatment if progressive ectasia is noted as soon as possible,” said Dr. Katsev.
After the procedure, Andrea feels confident at work and is able to play soccer again. He is no longer concerned about going blind.
For more information, go to santabarbaraeyecare.com.