The cornea is the clear front surface of the
eye. The cornea serves a very important role
in vision by focusing light rays. With
keratoconus, the cornea gradually thins and
bulges outward into a cone shape. Approximately
one out of 1,000 people in the
United States develops keratoconus.
Causes, Risk Factors
Though the cause is still unknown, the following
factors have been associated with keratoconus:
- At least 10% have a relative with keratoconus
- Down's syndrome
- Allergies or asthma
- Connective tissue disorders
- Those who often rub their eyes with
too much force
- Long history of contact lens wear
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Glare in the day and/or night
Keratoconus is usually discovered by an ophthalmologist or optometrist during a routine eye exam. The doctor may take notice of increasing astigmatism and changes in the glasses prescription or changes in the cornea as seen through the slit lamp during an exam. The diagnosis is often confirmed using corneal topography, an advanced technology that measures the curvature of the cornea and highlights irregularities consistent with keratoconus.
The rate of progression varies. Keratoconus
will often progress slowly for 10 - 20 years.
It has been observed in some patients to
stabilize, while others do not. It is important
to keep regular follow-ups with your doctor to
For many people, vision problems from
keratoconus can be corrected with glasses or
contact lenses. In progressing keratoconus,
rigid gas permeable (or hard) contact lenses are
often the next step. It is very important to have
contact lenses fit by a doctor well-experienced in treating keratoconus. A poor fitting contact
lens can further damage the cornea.
In about 10 - 20 percent of people with
keratoconus, contact lens wear is not possible
or does not adequately improve vision. For
this group, surgical options are available
including corneal transplant or corneal inserts.
Success rates of corneal transplantation for
keratoconus are higher than 90%, though
eyeglasses are usually still needed for vision
correction. New treatment options are under
clinical investigation aimed at halting the
progression of keratoconus.
Our Vero Beach eye doctors are highly skilled in identifying and treating keratoconus. Call us today at 772-257-8700 to schedule your appointment.