Keratoconus is one of the conditions known as corneal stromal dystrophies and causes a condition called ectasia. These conditions are caused by a weakness of the cornea and result in high astigmatism and distortion of vision.

Keratoconus: The condition & causes

Keratoconus usually starts in your late teens or early twenties and it usually gets progressively worse, especially in your teens or twenties, or during pregnancy.

The astigmatism may become difficult to correct with glasses and a special contact lens may become necessary. The cornea and astigmatism are irregular and continue to change. If you have keratoconus you may need frequent changes to your glasses or contact lenses.

We don’t understand completely why some people develop keratoconus, but we do know some of the risks factors.

  • Youth: Keratoconus usually starts in your teenage years.
  • Genetics: Some people who have keratoconus in the family or who have certain conditions such as Down’s syndrome are predisposed to keratoconus. 
  • Eye allergies and inflammation: Severe or long term eye allergies and inflammation in childhood or as a teenager can weaken the cornea and cause keratoconus.
  • Behavioural: Chronic eye rubbing can distort and weaken the cornea and cause keratoconus.

You can’t do much about some of these risk factors, such as your genes. However you can stop rubbing your eyes. Please don’t rub your eyes. Your cornea is a soft, elastic structure and you distort it each time you rub. If you rub hard and often enough then the corneal distortion will become permanent, you will distort your vision and you will develop keratoconus.  



However, the progression can be stopped and the distortion may be improved with corneal cross linking. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) eyedrops are dropped on the eye then an ultraviolet light is shone on your eye to strengthen the links between fibres in your cornea and strengthen the cornea.  The effect is somewhat like the cross linked beams which strengthen and support a roof . 

Do you suffer from Keratoconus?

Mark Wevill is an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) and eye surgeon who has specialised in treating vision disorders. He has been correcting vision in eye clinics in Birmingham and the West Midlands since 2002. If you would like to discuss keratoconus with Mark and see if we can help you, then please call. And please don’t rub your eyes!

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