The Basics of Keratoconus - Specialist Ophthalmologist
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The Basics of Keratoconus

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The Basics of Keratoconus

Keratoconus is the abnormal thinning and forward bulging of the cornea. It is an eye disease characterised by the cone-like bulging forward of the front surface of the eye due to abnormal thinning of the cornea. 

What causes Keratoconus?

The exact cause of keratoconus is not fully understood. However, risk factors include eye rubbing, allergies, and genetics. Some research suggests that the disruption of normal levels of certain enzymes and other substances in the cornea (including compounds that influence inflammatory responses) is also associated with keratoconus. The underlying cause of this disruption, however, is unclear. 

The reported prevalence of keratoconus varies widely based on geography and methods used to diagnose eye disease. One of the most-cited studies of the epidemiology of keratoconus found that keratoconus affects roughly 54 people per 100,000. That is about one in 2,000 people. However, a recent study in the Netherlands found that the estimated prevalence of keratoconus in the general population was 265 cases per 100,000. Meaning 1 in every 377 people, which is significantly higher than the values reported in previous studies. Keratoconus generally begins in a person’s teens or early 20s. 

Does Keratoconus only affect one eye?

It can affect one or both eyes. Left untreated, the cornea eventually becomes irregularly cone-shaped. This results in blurred vision that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses or conventional lenses. Keratoconus also can cause scarring of the cornea that further decreases best-corrected visual acuity. 

How to prevent Keratoconus from getting worse

If you have been diagnosed with keratoconus, the most important thing you can do to keep your condition from worsening is to follow the advice your eye doctor gives you regarding the best treatment options and follow-up care.

Depending on the specific characteristics of your keratoconus, these treatment options may include being fitted with scleral contact lenses, undergoing a corneal cross-linking procedure, or both.

It’s also very important that you refrain from rubbing your eyes. Eye rubbing has been associated with keratoconus getting worse.

And successful management of keratoconus requires frequent and lifelong eye exams to make sure your cornea remains stable and your visual acuity is maintained. If you are confused or uncertain about the advice you receive from your eye doctor about managing your keratoconus, consider seeking a second opinion from an optometrist or ophthalmologist who is a keratoconus specialist.

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