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Keratoconus is a rare, progressive eye disorder that occurs when collagen protein fibers in the eye become weak and thin. It results in a cone-shaped or bulging cornea (transparent, dome-shaped layer on the front of the eye) and causes distorted vision.
The cornea is responsible for focusing light that enters your eye. It’s supported by a layer of collagen fibers that hold the cornea in place and give it shape. When collagen fibers weaken, the cornea loses its shape. The ability to focus light diminishes, causing vision loss.
Keratoconus progresses over many years, and symptoms typically start in puberty and stabilize over time. Keratoconus may affect each eye differently.
Keratoconus symptoms can vary from person to person. The most common signs and symptoms include:
In severe keratoconus cases, swelling can crack the cornea, leading to scar tissue, pain, and redness.
If left untreated, keratoconus can lead to permanent vision loss. LASIK eye surgery is also not recommended for people with keratoconus because it can worsen the condition.
Experts believe genetic and environmental factors are responsible for developing keratoconus. However, the exact cause of keratoconus is unknown.
Keratoconus is rare and occurs in about 1 in 1,000 people. It affects all races and usually occurs in both eyes.6
Keratoconus has been linked with family history, but genetic patterns are not predictable. People with Down’s syndrome and Ehlers Danlos (connective tissue disorder) have a higher risk of developing keratoconus.
Environmental risk factors of keratoconus include:
You cannot prevent keratoconus, but effectively treating and managing allergies and asthma can reduce eye rubbing, reducing the risk of developing keratoconus.
Avoiding eye rubbing is also essential to minimize disease progression.
A comprehensive eye exam by a licensed ophthalmologist is used to diagnose keratoconus.
During the examination, the eye doctor will:
The treatment plan for keratoconus will depend on the stage, severity, and how fast the condition progresses.
The treatment goals are to improve vision and slow the progression of the disease. Keratoconus can’t be cured or reversed.
Early keratoconus with mild symptoms are treated with eye glasses and contact lenses, including:
Surgical and therapeutic treatments are available for people with advanced or progressing keratoconus when eyeglasses and contact lenses are no longer effective at correcting vision. They include:
Keratoconus is a rare eye condition that occurs when the collagen fibers in the cornea (transparent, dome-shaped layer on the front of the eye) thin and weaken. It causes the cornea to bulge and develop a cone shape, leading to distorted vision.
Keratoconus is a rare disorder that typically starts during puberty. It progresses over several years and is linked to genetics and environmental factors. Symptoms include blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and poor night vision. Repeated eye rubbing can make keratoconus worse.
While keratoconus can’t be cured, several treatments can help slow progression and improve vision. These treatments include eyeglasses, hard and soft contact lenses, corneal cross-linking, and corneal transplant.
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