National Keratoconus Foundation Holds Free Seminar in Chicago on Rare, Mysterious Eye Disorder

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Some of the Midwest’s best eye care professionals will shed light on a rare and mysterious eye disorder called keratoconus on Sunday, November 13th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the University Conference Center, 525 S. State Street in Chicago. The free seminar is presented by the National Keratoconus Foundation.

Some of the Midwest’s best eye care professionals will shed light on a rare and mysterious eye disorder called keratoconus on Sunday, November 13th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the University Conference Center, 525 S. State Street in Chicago. The free seminar is presented by the National Keratoconus Foundation.

In a normal eye, the light rays come to a sharp focusing point on the retina, which functions much like the film in a camera. It is responsible for capturing all of the light rays, processing them into light impulses through millions of tiny nerve endings, then sending these light impulses through over a million nerve fibers to the optic nerve.

In patients with keratoconus, the cornea loses its natural round shape and becomes distorted with cone-like bulging, progressive thinning, and reduction in vision quality.

Because the keratoconus cornea is irregular and cone shaped, light rays enter the eye at different angles, and do not focus on one point the retina, but on many different points causing a blurred, distorted image.

Estimates place the incidence of keratoconus at between 1 and 500 and 1 in 2000 people in the United States.

According to Rob Davis, OD, of Davis EyeCare in Oak Lawn, Ill., and one of the presenters at the seminar, there are many theories based on research and its association with other conditions.

“However, no one theory explains it all and it may be caused by a combination of things such as genetics, the environment and the endocrine system,” he said.

Barry Eiden, OD, and Shana Brafman, OD, of North Suburban Vision Consultants in Highland Park, Ill. will cover new contact lens options for those with keratoconus.

“Today, gas permeable contact lens correction of keratoconus is still the main stay of treatment, however very specialized designs have been developed that improve vision and comfort far beyond yesterday’s lenses,” Dr. Eiden said. “Some highly effective new methods include: new custom soft lenses specifically designed for the treatment of keratoconus, large diameter gas permeable lens designs that are able to provide improved comfort and vision especially for the more advanced cases of keratoconus, and hybrid keratoconic lens designs that try to bring the "best of both worlds" from the rigid gas permeable and soft lens areas into one single lens design,” Eiden said.

For patients who do not improve with contact lenses, ophthamalogists now offer a number of surgical options, and even clincial trials, that may benefit patients with keratoconus.

Randy J. Epstein, MD, of Chicago Cornea Consultants, in Highland Park, Ill., and affiliated with Rush University Medical Center, is the only Illinois investigator on a new clinical trial called the CXL-USA corneal crosslinking study.

“Corneal crosslinking consists of saturation of the cornea with riboflavin (vitamin B) eyedrops, followed by a 30 minute exposure to uv light (like a highly focused "blacklight"). This procedure is commonly performed outside of the U.S., but because of FDA regulations, it is only available to U.S. patients who enroll in a clinical trial,” he explained.

Dr. Epstein will also discuss other surgical approaches to treating keratoconus, including Intacs implants, which involves inserting a plastic implant into the cornea to flatten it to improve vision.

About the National Keratoconus Foundation
Founded in 1986, The National Keratoconus Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination of information about keratoconus to patients, their families, and eye care professionals through:

  •     The publication and circulation of literature and seminars.
  •     Through the organization of keratoconus patients and eye care professionals on a local level for the purpose of mutual dialog and support.
  •     Raising funds to support scientific research into the causes, treatment and possible cure of keratoconus.

For more information, visit NKCF’s website at: http://www.nkcf.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nkcf.org.

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Chris Martin
CMPR, Inc.
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