Specialists at the Eye Medical Center of Fresno are diagnosing more and more patients with keratoconus.
The eye is shaped like a ball with the cornea, the clear outer lens of the eye, shaped like a dome.
"But if you have keratoconus, usually the eye is more bulged and the lower part tends to be steeper," said Dr. Mehdi Ghajar, a cornea specialist at the Eye Medical Center.
According to Ghajar, the cornea weakens, creating a cone-like shape.
Dr. Ghajar has worked at the center since 2008. He said younger people, starting in their teens, are getting diagnosed with keratoconus.
He said it can be passed down through genetics, but living in the Central Valley makes someone more prone to the condition because of the allergens and pollutants in the environment.
"If somebody has a genetic disposition and they rub their eyes a lot, or if their eyes water and they're touching their eyes all the time, it can potentiate the prevalence of the disease," he explained.
Light sensitivity and blurry vision are two symptoms of kerotoconus.
Early diagnosis is key. Dr. Ghajar said if your vision is still blurry, even after having prescription glasses or contacts, he recommends seeing an optometrist or ophthalmologist and asking for a keratoconus evaluation.
Once diagnosed, the goal is to keep the cornea from bulging even more.
The Eye Medical Center has a new, FDA-approved tool to treat the condition with corneal cross-linking.
Ghajar explained how the procedure works, saying the device soaks the eye in a liquid form of Vitamin B2, then a UV light creates bonds between the fibers in your eye, strengthening the cornea.
"It is more functional and you see better results with it," Ghajar said.
He added that he has treated between 50 to 60 patients with corneal cross-linking, which saved them from having a cornea transplant.