SIMPLE THINGS (1)
Arthur – what about this terrible word I learned – keratoconus?
Well, you aren’t obligated to know. Keratoconus is a fairly rare disease where the cornea becomes thinner and takes on a conical shape, manifesting itself as various symptoms, including sudden changes in vision in one eye. A normal and healthy cornea is round like a basketball, and keeps its shape thanks to tiny protein fibers. When these fibers weaken, they can no longer support this roundness. As a result, the cornea begins to gradually protrude and becomes like a cone, and that’s keratoconus.
What’s the prognosis?
The cornea can change quickly or slowly, and those changes can stop suddenly or conversely continue for years. In more difficult cases, stretched fibers can lead to serious damage of the cornea. It’s also worthwhile to note that keratoconus is often inherited. Therefore, with this kind of “family tradition”, you have to start checking a child’s vision after about 10 years old. The disease begins in adolescence in the majority of cases, but also happens in people between 30 and 40.
Which symptoms should cause concern?
An atypical shape of the cornea manifests as impaired vision. Depending on different indicators, I will ask about the following symptoms during the examination:
- Sudden changes in vision, especially in one eye
- Objects are distorted both near and far
- Seeing halos around bright lights
This next word isn’t the most pleasant, like any other disease. We have spoken about this problem more than once, but even my friends didn’t know anything about it – macular degeneration.
Well, that’s something they should know! Macular degeneration is a disease that affects over 10 million of our fellow countrymen, and it’s the main cause in loss of vision among Americans older than 55. Macular degeneration, as the name implies, is a degeneration of the macula itself, the part of the retina that is responsible for clear central vision, which is important for driving a car or reading. There are two kinds – wet and dry. Most often it is dry, but the wet has more serious consequences. Dry is an early form of it. Causes include age-related changes and a thinning of the macular tissues, pigment disturbances, or all these things at once. The problem becomes obvious when the macula develops a yellow discoloration. About 10% of dry cases become wet. With wet, new blood vessels start to grow under the retina, which leads to leakage of eye moisture and blood. As a result, retinal cells can be damaged and begin to die, causing blind spots in central vision.
(to be continued)