Medical content revised by - Last revision 29/05/2018

Keratoconus appears when the corneal tissue deteriorates, modifying its usual spherical shape by a cone shape. As the shape of the cornea is altered, the vision becomes distorted.

The cornea is one of the most important parts of the eye. Light enters the eye through the cornea and it focuses the light rays so that we can see clearly.

Keratoconus is one of the most common disorders of degenerative coranel diseases, it is usually detected during adolescence and can continue to develop into adulthood.


Causes of Keratoconus

This ocular disorder is associated with a genetic basis, since 10% of those affected by this pathology have a relative who also has it. However it can also appear spontaneously.

Moreover, this visual disorder can be associated with other factors:

  • Eye injuries; keratoconus is related to excessive rubbing or continued eye rubbing, as well as, with the use of contact lenses for long periods.
  • Eye allergy; which causes the eyes to be scrubbed continuously.
  • Other eye disorders; keratoconus can be caused by pathologies such as vernal keratoconjunctivitis, retinitis pigmentosa or retinopathy of prematurity.

Symptoms of Keratoconus

Keratoconus can develop in one of the two eyes, although it usually develops bilaterally.

The symptoms that usually appear are:

  • Blurred vision and distortion of images.
  • Photophobia or great sensitivity to light, vision of flashes and blinding.
  • Eye irritation that may be mild or moderate.
  • Irregular astigmatism and myopia.
  • Swelling or sudden edema of the cornea.

This disorder may progress for a period of 10 to 20 years during which the symptoms evolve.

How is Keratoconus diagnosed?

Keratoconus can be diagnosed by performing a regular ophthalmological control.

Although the ophthalmologist has specific complementary tests that allow a more accurate diagnosis:

  • Corneal Topography: with this test a photo of the cornea is made and then the topographic map of the ocular surface cand be studied.
  • Keratometer: this test will serve to measure the curvature of the cornea.
  • Optical coherence tomography: it is use to obtain high-resolution optical cuts of the cornea.

What is the treatment for Keratoconus?

The treatment for keratoconus is established depending on the symptoms and the degree of evolution in which it is diagnosed.

As of today, the treatment serves to stop the development of this disorder, but there is no total cure.

The different types of treatment are:

  • Glasses or semi-rigid contact lenses; glasses are used in an initial phase. The semi-rigid lenses are used to flatten the cornea and allow the light entering the cornea to refract correctly and prevent distortion of vision.
  • Intracorneal rings; it is made a small intervention in the cornea to insert the ring as a fastening. The ring applies pressure and flattens the cornea, allowing light to enter centered the cornea and so recover the sharpness of vision.
  • Crosslinking (CXL); this technique can be recommended as a complement to intracorneal rings. In this treatment, an ultraviolet light source and riboflavin drops are used in the eyes to facilitate crosslinking and strengthen the collagen fibers of the cornea, to flatten and slow the development of keratoconus.
  • Corneal transplant; when the previous treatments do not stop the progression of keratoconus, this technique should be advisable. Nowadays, this technique allows the transplant of only the affected part of the cornea. This permits a lesser chance of rejection and the recovery time is shorter.

How to prevent Keratoconus?

There are no specific prevention measures to prevent this ocular disorder.

Ophthalmic controls on a regular basis are recommended since early detection is important for the approach of this disorder, especially in young patients, since it is the population with the highest risk.

It is recommended that those people who have a family history of this disease, go to check-ups often to make a good control of their eye health, as it is an almost asymptomatic pathology and, therefore, difficult to detect without ophthalmological control.

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