Keratoconus, pronounced KEHR-uh-toh-KOH-nus, is an uncommon condition in which a normally round, dome-like cornea becomes thin and develops a cone-like bulge. Keratoconus can make some activities difficult such as driving, typing on a computer, watching television or reading.
Keratoconus usually affects both eyes. Symptoms usually start to occur in people who are in their late teens and early twenties and may include:
- The mild blurring of vision
- The slight distortion of vision
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Mild eye irritation
The rate of progression varies. Keratoconus will often progress slowly for 10 to 20 years and then stop.
As the condition progresses, most common symptoms include:
- Increased blurring and distortion of vision
- Increased near-sighted or astigmatism
- Frequent eye prescription changes
- Inability to wear contact lens
The cause of keratoconus is still not known. Some researchers believe that genetics plays a role. An estimated 10% of people with keratoconus also have family members with the condition
You should refrain from rubbing your eyes. This can aggravate the corneal tissue and make symptoms worse. During the early stages, vision can be corrected with eyeglasses. As the condition progresses, a Rigid Gas Permeable contact may be worn to correct distorted vision.
When a good vision is no longer possible with a contact lens, a corneal transplant may be recommended. A cornea transplant is only necessary for about 10-20% of patients with keratoconus. During a corneal transplant, the diseased cornea from the eye is replaced with a healthy donor cornea. Of all conditions requiring corneal transplants, keratoconus has the best prognosis for clear vision.