Keratoconus is a disorder that occurs when the cornea, which is typically rounded (the front clear part of the eye) becomes cone-shaped. The word keratoconus is formed from two Greek words: kerato, meaning cornea, and konos, meaning cone. Keratoconus, or conical cornea, results in decreased vision due to irregularity of the corneal surface. This distortion has been compared to a distortion in a smeared window. The progression is usually slow and can stop at any stage from mild to severe. The distortion increases as the cornea bulges and thins. As the keratoconus progresses, the apex of the cone often scars, reducing the vision in that eye further. Keratoconus is usually present in both eyes, but may be worse in one eye versus the other.
Who can get it?
Keratoconus appears to have a genetic component. If you have it, you may find that others in your family have it as well.
What are the symptoms?
Because Keratoconus can be difficult to detect and can be combined with astigmatism and nearsightedness, symptoms may not be obvious. Distorted vision which progressively gets worse is typically the most common symptom; something to be aware of is if your prescription seems to change every time you visit your eye care practitioner. Glare and light sensitivity may also be present.
What is the treatment?
Mild keratoconus can often be managed with glasses or soft contact lenses. Frequent visits and careful fitting may be necessary to obtain and maintain good clear vision.
Moderate to severe keratoconus is usually managed with rigid gas permeable contact lenses designed specifically for an irregular corneal surface. The National Keratoconus Foundation reports a 95% success rate with cornea transplants for eyes with severe keratoconus.