Keratoconus (KC) is a disorder of the eye which results in progressive thinning of the cornea. This may result in blurry vision, double vision, nearsightedness, astigmatism, and light sensitivity. Usually both eyes are affected. In more severe cases a scarring or a circle may be seen within the cornea.
While the cause is unknown, it is believed to occur due to a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors. About seven percent of those affected have a family history of the condition. Proposed environmental factors include rubbing the eyes and allergies. The underlying mechanism involves changes of the cornea to a cone shape. Diagnosis is by examination with a slit lamp.
Initially the condition can typically be corrected with glasses or soft contact lenses. As the disease worsens special contact lenses may be required. In most people the disease stabilizes after a few years without severe vision problems. In a small number of people scarring of the cornea occurs and a corneal transplantation is required.
Keratoconus affects about 1 in 2000 people. It occurs most commonly in late childhood to early adulthood. While it occurs in all populations it may be more frequent in certain ethnic groups such as those of Asian descent. The word is from the Greek kéras meaning cornea and the Latin cōnus meaning cone.
New research suggests the weakening of the corneal tissue that leads to keratoconus may be due to an imbalance of enzymes within the cornea. This imbalance makes the cornea more susceptible to oxidative damage from compounds called free radicals, causing it to weaken and bulge forward.
Risk factors for oxidative damage and weakening of the cornea include a genetic predisposition, explaining why keratoconus often affects more than one member of the same family.
This procedure, also called corneal collagen cross-linking or CXL, strengthens corneal tissue to halt bulging of the eye’s surface in keratoconus.
IntraCorneal Ring Segmets (ICRS)
If keratoconus progresses to the point where a contact lens cannot be fit or does not adequately correct vision, surgery may be indicated. Small plastic ring segments placed in the cornea can produce a more regular corneal surface in about 2 out of 3 keratoconus patients.