If your eye doctor says you have keratoconus, it’s possible that you’ve had it for years without knowing it. It’s difficult to detect this progressive eye disease affecting the cornea without a specific test. Treatment will depend on how far the disease has progressed when you get your diagnosis.
Navigating the condition
Keratoconus can make your vision blurry or distorted (astigmatism) or cause nearsightedness. And it may get worse over time. It usually affects both eyes as it progresses, but can be more severe in one eye. This often leads to late detection because the better-seeing eye often prevents a person from noticing changes in the worse eye.
You cannot reverse the damage, but your doctor can treat it to reduce the impact on your vision.
Until recently, doctors based treatment options primarily on correcting vision. Treatment typically progresses with the disease, with doctors prescribing:
- Eyeglasses and soft contact lenses for mild cases in the early stages
- Hard or specialty contact lenses for more moderate cases
- Corneal transplant for severe cases (when optical correction alone is no longer effective)
Understanding why the condition develops
Keratoconus usually affects people in their teens or 20s. But, it’s difficult to predict whether you or your kids will get it.
The exact cause is unknown, but doctors suspect certain factors may play a role:
- It is sometimes hereditary
- It is more likely for those who have Down syndrome and certain other conditions.
- Patients with signs of keratoconus on topography are not candidates for LASIK or many other forms of refractive surgery, which can further weaken an already-weak cornea.
Long-term rubbing of your eyes also can raise the risk of keratoconus. So keep your hands away from your eyes as much as possible.