Keratoconus is the degeneration of the structure of the cornea, causing the cornea to become conical in shape instead of round. The causes of keratoconus are unknown, although there is substantial evidence to suggest that it is genetic. The disease generally presents itself in adolescence and can be identified by blurred vision that cannot be corrected with glasses. Keratoconus can cause serious distortions in a persons vision, including sensitivity to light and streaking, and is generally characterized by nearsightedness, or myopia.
Corneal topography is helpful in the diagnosis of keratoconus. A map of the cornea is taken, which identifies irregularities in the shape of the cornea. As the disease progresses, vision gets worse and worse until it is no longer correctable with glasses. Gas permeable contact lenses are a common treatment for keratoconus as they help to reshape the cornea.
Keratoconus can cause total loss of vision if the disease progresses or is left untreated. “Advanced cases of keratoconus can require surgical intervention” says Ravi Shah, MD, of Eyecare Medical Group. Corneal transplantation is a common treatment for severe keratoconus along with newer treatments, such as intrastromal corneal ring segments and corneal collagen cross linking.