Keratoconus is an eye condition affecting the cornea, which is the transparent surface of the eye.
It usually affects both eyes and can cause problems with seeing clearly. If you notice any eye symptoms or changes to your eyesight, you should see your optometrist or doctor.
What is keratoconus?
Keratoconus occurs when the cornea slowly changes shape. While it is normally shaped like a dome, with keratoconus it thins and becomes shaped like a cone. This affects the way your eyes focuses light and can distort your vision.
What causes keratoconus?
The cause of keratoconus is unknown. However, things that may increase your chance of developing keratoconus include:
- rubbing your eyes vigorously
- having someone in the family who has keratoconus
- having allergic conditions, such as asthma and eczema
If you have keratoconus, you might experience:
- blurred or distorted vision
- increased sensitivity to glare and light
- difficulty seeing distant objects clearly
- needing to frequently change the prescription for your glasses or contact lenses
If your vision changes at all, you should see your optometrist or your doctor, who might refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist). You will need eye tests to check your vision and to examine your cornea.
Eyeglasses or soft contact lenses can be used to treat keratoconus in the early stages. If the condition progresses, you may need hard contact lenses or other special lenses to help stabilise the shape of your cornea.
People with very advanced keratoconus might need surgery. This may involve placing tiny inserts into your cornea to correct its shape and improve your eyesight. In very serious cases, a cornea transplant might help.
Corneal collagen cross-linking can stop or slow down worsening of keratoconus. It involves putting vitamin B2 eye drops into your cornea followed by treatment with ultraviolet A light to strengthen your cornea. This treatment won’t suit everybody. There are risks involved and it’s only for people whose condition is getting worse. Medicare now covers some of the cost of cross-linking for people with keratoconus.
Visit the Keratoconus Australia website for more information about this condition.
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Last reviewed: July 2018