What is keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory eye condition. It is caused by the (usually round) dome-shaped cornea, which is the transparent covering of the eye, becoming thinner and causing a cone-like bulge to develop. This cone shape then deflects light on its way to the retina at the back of the eye, leading to distorted and blurry vision.
Who is affected by it?
The condition is more common in non-Caucasians. Keratoconus usually develops in your teens and is normally detected by your early 20s however, it can worsen over time so early detection can be beneficial.
What causes the condition?
Unfortunately, this is unknown but it is thought that it can be hereditary in some cases and environmental factors can play a role. Keratoconus tends to worsen more quickly in younger people, it can continue into the mid-30s where it may slow down or stop developing. Once the condition has been diagnosed, it will be routinely monitored with regular eye tests and corneal scans.
How does it affect vision?
As suggested above, keratoconus results in blurry and distorted vision but it can also cause your eye to become short-sighted - this would make distant objects seem blurred and closer objects would be clearer. Other symptoms can include eyes appearing red and sore, as well as this the patient may experience more sensitivity to light.
In the early stages, vision can be corrected with glasses or soft contact lenses. As the cornea continues to thin, rigid or soft contact lenses can be used to correct the distorted vision in a more adequate manner. Collagen cross-linking or CXL is a treatment for progressive keratoconus, it aims to stop the condition from getting worse but some people also report a slight improvement. The procedure takes about 30-60 minutes and it can usually be undertaken on an out-patient basis.