Keratoconus is a disorder of the eye, characterized by thinning of the cornea, causing it to bulge outwards. Such a condition can cause gradual distortion of vision, making reading and driving difficult for affected individuals.
Keratoconus presents with the following signs and symptoms:
Symptoms of keratoconus usually differ with disease progression. In more severe cases, the cornea may rupture, and get accumulated with fluid. In such conditions, the already distorted vision worsens, indicating immediate medical intervention .
A preliminary, thorough examination of the eye will be carried out. Thereafter, the following tests are conducted to diagnose the condition :
The following methods will be employed for treating keratoconus.
Individuals with keratoconus present with mild signs and symptoms during adolescence. However, the condition is diagnosed only during the late teens to early 20s. If younger individuals or children are affected, then the disease progresses at a faster rate and can get severe. The prognosis of the condition is pretty unpredictable; in some, the disease progresses at a faster pace, while in some cases patients remain stable for several years .
The exact cause of keratoconus is not known. However, several practices or factors can predispose an individual to contract this chronic noninflammatory eye disorder. These include:
In addition, several other factors can also put an individual at risk for contracting this disease condition. Individuals with family history of keratoconus, are at an increased risk for developing the same. Also, certain disease conditions, such as osteogenesis imperfecta, Leber’s congenital amarousis and Ehlers Danlos syndrome, are some of the risk factors for keratoconus.
In majority of the cases, keratoconus occurs as a singular condition. But there are some incidences, when the condition coexists along with ocular and systemic diseases. It has been estimated that about 50 to 200 cases occur per 100,000 populations. Statistical reports have suggested that about 2000 Americans are affected with this eye disorder. There have been small pieces of evidence suggesting that females are more likely to develop this condition than males .
The condition of keratoconus is known to affect all the corneal layers. Structural changes occur in the epithelial membrane, along with scarring, that occurs in the Bowman membrane. Oxidative stress is known to cause such sequence of events to occur . Oxidative stress on the other hand, can stimulate or activate the degradative enzymes, which in turn leads to thinning of the corneal cells. Such a kind of phenomenon causes vision distortion, and the condition normally affects both the eyes.
Keratoconus cannot be prevented. However, it is advised that individuals with this condition should treat their eye allergies, and also avoid rubbing their eye often.
Keratoconus affects both the eyes, and majorly strikes individuals aged 10 to 25 years. This degenerative eye disease is diagnosed during the adolescence, and gradual loss of vision occurs, as the disease progresses to more advanced stages. More advanced stages of the disease may require surgical intervention, which includes corneal transplant .