The Eye Foundation Director and surgeon, D. Ramamurthy, told presspersons on Thursday that only two to three centres in the country had done this surgery, but very soon many other centres in Coimbatore and elsewhere in the country would start doing this procedure as the benefits to the patients were huge.
Presenting a woman patient whom he operated on at his hospital for keratoconus, Dr. Ramamurthy said six to eight out of 1,000 persons worldwide were found to be suffering from this problem. For decades, glasses that were up to minus 12 in cylindrical power were provided to the affected persons. But, even this did not provide a permanent solution. Therefore, these patients had to wait for corneas to be donated to them.
Dr. Ramamurthy said this problem normally occurred from teenage to the mid-thirties. And, this problem was being detected more because of the advent of lasik.“There is a much closer examination of the cornea for the lasik treatment to correct vision problems. In the process, we are able to detect keratoconus also. But, if this problem is found, the lasik treatment should be dropped immediately,” he said.
The treatment being done now was called corneal collagen cross-linking.Under this, riboflavin drops were applied on the cornea and the eye was exposed to ultraviolet rays. The riboflavin underwent a chemical process that led to the release of oxygen-free radicals.These cross-linked the collagen fibres of the cornea and provided it with immense tensile strength.Apart from this procedure, rings made of a plastic material (polymethyl methacrylate) were inserted into the cornea to flatten the excess curvature. “This improved the functional vision of the patient,” Dr. Ramamurthy said.
The surgeon said there were two factors causing this problem.One was the genetic factor. If the parents suffered from this problem, the children were certain to get it, he said. The other was an allergic condition called spring catarrah (that occurred during spring). An indication of the problem was when children rubbed their eyes vigorously during this season and complained of irritation in the eye.