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Beyond the Blur: Demystifying Keratoconus and Restoring Vision

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Normally, the cornea, the clear window in front of the eye, is dome-shaped. 

Keratoconus occurs when the cornea starts thinning and gradually bulges outward like a cone. This can have serious implications for your vision, like blurry vision and sensitivity to light.

Identifying symptoms and diagnosing the condition is crucial to protect your vision. Management through specialized treatments can also help avoid complications like corneal scarring and Glaucoma.

This article will discuss Keratoconus in detail, including its causes, symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, treatments, and complications.

What is Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that affects the shape of the cornea. This condition involves the thinning of the cornea, which causes it to bulge outward like a cone. 

The cornea focuses the light into your eye, and a change in its shape can put the light rays out of focus. This results in blurry and distorted vision.

Keratoconus generally affects both eyes. However, the severity of the disease may vary between eyes.

This condition generally affects people between the late teens and 30 years of age. The disease may progress gradually for ten years or longer.

Keratonocus is usually unnoticeable in its early stages but can affect your ability to read, drive, and do other daily activities. 

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How Does Keratoconus Affect Vision

Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that affects your vision over time. 

People with Keratoconus may have blurred or double vision. Keratoconus can also affect night vision in some cases. 

While Keratoconus can gradually worsen your sight, it does not cause complete blindness. 

If you wish to learn more about how Keratoconus affects your vision, read Keratoconus Vision Unveiled: A Comprehensive Guide to Clarity

Keratoconus Causes

The causes of Keratoconus and its underlying pathological mechanisms are unknown. Yet, environmental and genetic factors are thought to contribute to the development of the disease.

In some cases, Keratoconus appears to be genetic. Development of Keratoconus may also be associated with factors such as excessive eye rubbing.

Pathogenic mechanisms of a condition are set in motion by the underlying causes, which, if controlled, would help to prevent the disease.

Risk Factors of Keratoconus

Decreased Tear Production Source: fixkes
Man rubbing his eyes

While it is not possible to accurately determine the cause of Keratoconus, certain factors can enhance your risk of developing the condition.

Risk factors for Keratoconus may include:

Genetics: Patients with a family history of Keratoconus or with certain systemic disorders like Down Syndrome may have a higher risk of developing Keratoconus.

Age: Generally, Keratoconus occurs in the second decade of life i.e. late teenage years.

Chronic eye inflammation: Constant or frequent eye inflammation due to eye allergies or other irritants can affect the corneal structure and lead to the development of Keratoconus.

Eye rubbing: Chronic eye rubbing has been associated with the occurrence of Keratoconus. Eye rubbing may also play a role in the progression of the condition.

Keratoconus Symptoms

Blurry visionSource: pixelshot
Blurry and distorted vision

Generally, Keratoconus presents itself  with common vision problems like blurry vision or red eyes. 

These symptoms of Keratoconus can be easily confused with another condition which can make it difficult to catch Keratoconus early on. 

However, a comprehensive understanding of Keratoconus symptoms can make just enough difference for you to catch Keratoocnus early on. Symptoms of Keratoconus may include

  • Blurry or distorted vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light and glare
  • Swollen or red eyes
  • Frequent changes in prescription for glasses or contact lenses

Consult an eye care specialist if you experience Keratoconus symptoms. They may conduct specialized tests to diagnose the condition. 

The next section will discuss Keratoconus diagnosis in detail.

To gain a better understanding of the symptoms of Keratoconus, read 4 Keratoconus Symptoms You Need to Look Out for!

Keratoconus Diagnosis

Diagnosing keratoconus involves a series of specialized tests conducted by eye care professionals. 

These tests help in accurately assessing the shape and condition of the cornea.

Tests to diagnose Keratoconus may include corneal topography, slit-lamp examination, refraction test, and pachymetry.

Corneal topography is a non-invasive imaging technique that creates a detailed map of the cornea’s surface to help identify any irregularities.

A slit-lamp examination involves using a specialized microscope to assess the overall health of the cornea and identify any abnormalities.

In a refraction test, the patient looks through a device called a phoropter, and the eye care professional determines the eyeglass prescription needed to correct vision. In keratoconus, frequent changes in prescription may be observed.

Pachymetry measures the thickness of the cornea. In Keratoconus, the cornea tends to be thinner than usual. Measuring its thickness helps in assessing the severity of the condition.

Keratoconus Treatment Options

Cataract surgery being performedSource: Zarina_Lukash_from_Getty_Images
Keratoconus surgery

Treatment of Keratoconus depends on the severity of the disease and how fast it progresses. 

There are several treatment options that focus either on slowing the progression of the disease or improve vision.

Corneal cross-linking may be considered to stop or slow the disease from progressing. This treatment can stabilize the structure of the cornea, decrease bulging, and improve vision with contact lenses or glasses.

Corneal cross-linking may also help prevent the need for corneal transplants in the future.

In some cases, Keratoconus may progress to an advanced stage, which can cause corneal scarring. In such cases, wearing contact lenses or glasses to improve vision may prove ineffective.

When the condition is in an advanced stage, Keratoconus surgery, like a corneal transplant or corneal ring (Intacs), might be necessary. 

If you want to know more about how to treat Keratoconus, read A Comprehensive Guide to Keratoconus Treatment.

Complications of Keratoconus Treatment

Sometimes, Keratoconus treatment can result in side effects like Glaucoma or corneal thinning.

To make an informed decision, it is crucial to learn the potential side effects before you receive treatment.

Corneal cross-linking therapy can sometimes lead to complications like dry eyes, irritation, eye pain, or worsening of Keratoconus.

While Intacs pose the risk of eye infection or or corneal thinning. A cornea transplant may also sometimes be the cause of Glaucoma or an eye infection

Though all Keratoconus treatments pose a risk of various side effects, it is vital to receive treatment to protect your eyesight. 

The incidence of these side effects from Keratoconus treatment is usually low and consulting a doctor can help you make the right decision.

If left untreated, Keratoconus can lead to complications like corneal scarring and myopia (nearsightedness).

Final Outlook

Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition that affects your vision. In this condition, the cornea becomes thinner and gradually bulges outwards, leading to a cone-shaped cornea.

Usually, Keratoconus affects people in their late teens to the age of 30. Though the exact cause of the condition is unknown, it may have a genetic component in some cases.

Common symptoms like blurry vision and light sensitivity can help you identify and diagnose the condition early.

Early diagnosis can help you receive timely treatment, such as Corneal cross-linking therapy, which can slow or stop the progression of the disease.

It may also help prevent the need for Keratoconus surgery like a corneal transplant in the future. However, surgery may be necessary if the disease has progressed to advanced stages.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can Keratoconus be prevented?

No, while there’s no guaranteed prevention, avoiding excessive eye rubbing and protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays can lower the risk.

Is surgery the only option for treating Keratoconus?

No, in the early stages, glasses or contact lenses may suffice. Surgical options are considered for more advanced cases.

How often should I have my eyes checked if I have Keratoconus?

Regular eye check-ups are crucial. Your eye care professional will advise on the frequency based on your specific case.

Can Keratoconus worsen over time?

Yes, Keratoconus is a progressive condition. Regular monitoring and timely intervention can slow down its progression.

Are there any specific foods that can help manage Keratoconus?

No, there is no specific diet that can cure Keratoconus, but maintaining a healthy, nutrient-rich diet supports overall eye health.

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Photo of author Janet Fudge
Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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