- Having a family history of keratoconus. 1 in 10 people with the condition has a parent or blood relative with keratoconus.
- Frequent rubbing of the eyes, probably due to constant irritation of the eyes due to exposure to dust, toxic fumes, or allergies.
- Having certain conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, hay fever, asthma, retinitis pigmentosa, and Down syndrome.
What are the symptoms of keratoconus?
Symptoms of keratoconus usually change and progressively worsen as the disease progresses. They include:
- Blurred and/or distorted vision
- Double images
- Sudden worsening vision and reduced vision
- Increased sensitivity to bright light
- Decreased vision at night and dim light
- Requiring changes in eyeglass prescriptions frequently
How is keratoconus treated?
Treatment for keratoconus depends on the severity and progression of the condition. There are usually two ways to treat keratoconus: one is slowing or stopping the progression of the disease and the other is the improvement of vision. The eye surgeon (ophthalmologist) would be able to suggest an appropriate treatment plan after evaluating the condition. Treatment options include:
- Eyeglasses or soft contact lenses: In the early stages of keratoconus, soft contact lenses and eyeglasses can be used to correct vision and see clearly. However, the condition continues to progress, and the shape of the cornea continues to change; hence, most people need to change their prescription for eyeglasses or contacts frequently.
- Rigid contact lenses: Hard/rigid, gas permeable contact lenses may be used in more advanced keratoconus. They may feel uncomfortable initially, but most people adjust to wearing them. They provide excellent vision and can be customized to fit the patient’s corneas.
- Piggyback lenses: A hard contact lens is placed on top of a soft one (piggybacking). This may be advised for patients who don’t adjust to hard/rigid lenses.
- Hybrid lenses: Contact lenses with a rigid center and that is softer on the outside are used for increased comfort.
- Scleral lenses: They are usually used for patients with very irregular changes in the corneal shape in advanced keratoconus. The lens is placed on the sclera (the white part of the eyes) instead of directly on the cornea. They are usually fitted by the ophthalmologist.
- Corneal collagen cross-linking: This is a newer treatment procedure in which the cornea is administered with riboflavin eye drops and treated with ultraviolet light. This causes cross-linking of the collagen of the cornea, causing the cornea to stiffen, stabilizing the cornea. The procedure can slow or stop further changes in the shape of the cornea and worsening of keratoconus and reduce the risk of progressive vision loss. The procedure may be combined with the use of lenses or eyeglasses. This procedure can also prevent the need for surgery.
- Surgery: Surgery may be required if there is corneal scarring, extreme thinning of your cornea, and poor vision, and when other treatments wouldn’t be beneficial. Surgery for keratoconus is keratoplasty (corneal transplant). Keratoplasty is usually very successful in correcting keratoconus, but there is a small risk of complications, such as graft rejection, poor vision, infection, and astigmatism. There are two types of keratoplasty:
- Penetrating keratoplasty: This is a full cornea transplant, involving removal of a full-thickness portion of the central cornea and replacement with donor corneal tissue.
- Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK): The inner lining of the cornea, called endothelium is preserved, over which the donor corneal tissue is transplanted. There is a lesser risk of rejection in this than penetrating keratoplasty.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Do You Get Keratoconus? Related Articles
Eye Problems and DiabetesDiabetes and eye problems are generally caused by high blood sugar levels over an extended period of time. Types of eye problems in a person with diabetes include glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy. Examples of symptoms include blurred vision, headaches, eye aches, pain, halos around lights, loss of vision, watering eyes. Treatment for eye problems in people with diabetes depend on the type of eye problem. Prevention of eye problems include reducing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, quitting smoking, and maintaining proper blood glucose levels.
Dry EyesDry eyes are caused by an imbalance in the tear-flow system of the eye, but also can be caused by the drying out of the tear film. This can be due to dry air created by air conditioning, heat, or other environmental conditions. Treatment may involve self-care measures, medications, or rarely, surgery.
Eye AllergyEye allergy (or allergic eye disease) are typically associated with hay fever and atopic dermatitis. Medications and cosmetics may cause eye allergies. Allergic eye conditions include allergic conjunctivitis, conjunctivitis with atopic dermatitis, vernal keratoconjunctivitis, and giant papillary conjunctivitis. Dry eye, tear-duct obstruction, and conjunctivitis due to infection are frequently confused with eye allergies. Eye allergies may be treated with topical antihistamines, decongestants, topical mast-cell stabilizers, topical anti-inflammatory drugs, systemic medications, and allergy shots.
Eye Anatomy Detail PictureThe eye has a number of components which include but are not limited to the cornea, iris, pupil, lens, retina, macula, optic nerve, choroid and vitreous. See a picture of Eye Anatomy Detail and learn more about the health topic.
What Are the Types of Eye Care?Many common eye disorders resolve without treatment and some may be managed with over-the-counter (OTC) products. It's important to visit a physician or ophthalmologist is the problem involves the eyeball itself or the condition hasn't improved after 72 hours of use of an OTC eye care product.
Common Eye ProblemsEye diseases can cause damage and blindness if not treated soon enough. Learn the warning signs and symptoms of common eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, pink eye, macular degeneration and more.
Eyeglasses, Sunglasses, and Magnifying GlassesNonprescription eyeglasses are available over the counter (OTC) and are typically used by people who can no longer read fine print. OTC trifocals are helpful for those who require multiple distances or focal lengths for near and intermediate tasks. OTC sunglasses should offer 100% protection from the sun's UVA and UVB rays. OTC magnifying glasses are useful for viewing tiny objects or fine print.
Eyewear SlideshowLearn about your eye care needs and fashion wishes -- with eye glasses, frames and eyewear for computer use, reading, driving, sports and more.
Perfect Brows & LashesLearn how to get better eyebrows and eyelashes. See how to maintain perfectly shaped brows and achieve longer lashes with these beauty tips.
Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis): Types, Treatment, and SymptomsPinkeye, also called conjunctivitis, is redness or irritation of the conjunctivae, the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids and the membranes covering the whites of the eyes. These membranes react to a wide range of bacteria, viruses, allergy-provoking agents, irritants, and toxic agents.
Reye SyndromeReye's syndrome (RS or Reye syndrome) is a sudden, sometimes fatal, disease of the brain with degeneration of the liver. Reye syndrome is associated with giving children medications containing aspirin. Symptoms include vomiting, listlessness, irritability or combativeness, confusion, delirium, delusions, convulsions, and loss of consciousness. Treatment depends on early diagnosis and focuses on protecting the brain against irreversible damage by reducing brain swelling, reversing the metabolic injury, preventing complications in the lungs, and anticipating cardiac arrest.