Common Eye Disorders > Keratoconus
Keratoconus is a degenerative disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than its normal gradual curve.
Keratoconus can cause substantial distortion of vision, with multiple images, streaking and sensitivity to light all often reported by the patient. It is typically diagnosed in the patient’s adolescent years and attains its most severe state in the twenties and thirties. If afflicting both eyes, the deterioration in vision can affect the patient’s ability to drive a car or read normal print. In most cases, corrective lenses are effective enough to allow the patient to continue to drive legally and likewise function normally. Further progression of the disease may require surgery including intrastromal corneal ring segments, corneal collagen cross-linking, or corneal transplantation. However, despite the disease’s unpredictable course, keratoconus can often be successfully managed with little or no impairment to the patient’s quality of life.
Keratoconus affects around one person in a thousand. It seems to occur in populations throughout the world, although it occurs more frequently in certain ethnic groups such as South Asians. The exact cause of keratoconus is uncertain, but has been associated with detrimental enzyme activity within the cornea. Environmental and genetic factors are considered possible causes, but the findings are still yet inconclusive. The progression of keratoconus is rapid in patients having Down syndrome.
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