Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease that eventually changes the shape of the cornea. Normally, the cornea is smooth and round; over time, people with keratoconus develop a thin, cone-shaped cornea. When light enters the eye, this abnormal shape prevents the light from focusing directly on the cornea, causing blurry or distorted vision.
Keratoconus usually emerges early in life; it is commonly diagnosed in teens and young adults. It occurs in both eyes, although each eye may be affected differently. During the early stages of the disease, vision can be corrected with prescription eyeglasses. As keratoconus progresses, the cornea will continue to thin out and change shape. In the later stages of the disease, rigid contact lenses can effectively correct vision.
Keratoconus usually develops slowly, which can make it difficult to detect. Early symptoms include:
People with keratoconus tend to update their lens prescription frequently due to continual changes of the shape of the cornea.
The exact cause of keratoconus is unknown. However, there are risk factors associated with keratoconus, including:
Keratoconus is a progressive disease, therefore, treatment is designed to change as the condition gets worse. In the early stages of the disease, keratoconus can be treated with prescription eyeglasses. As the cornea steepens and thins, eyeglasses alone will not be effective. At this point, most people turn to rigid gas permeable contact lenses. The majority of people with keratoconus can be treated with prescription contact lenses; however, if scarring occurs on the cornea it may be necessary to schedule a corneal transplant procedure.
Be sure to schedule regular eye examinations to catch keratoconus and other eye conditions in their early stages.