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 monitor progression.


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.

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