What is Keratoconus?


Keratoconus (also known as Pellucid) is a progressive non-inflammatory disorder that causes a characteristic thinning and cone-like steepening of the cornea. This steepening results in distortion of vision, increased sensitivity to glare and light and an associated reduction in visual acuity. These symptoms usually appear in the late teens and early twenties.

Keratoconus may progress for 10-20 years and then can slow or even stabilize. Each eye can be affected differently. This can result in a dramatic decrease in the ability to see clearly even with corrective lenses.

New research shows that Keratoconus is much more common today than it was in past. Years ago, Keratoconus occurred in 1 in 2000 people, now it is 1 in 500, a 400% increase. No one is sure why there was been such an increase in Keratoconus, but this is concerning.

As the cornea develops an irregular shape, symptoms include progressive nearsightedness, blurred vision and sensitivity to light and glare.

Frequent prescription changes to spectacles are often needed with every visit to the optometrist.

Patients also tend to excessively rub their eyes, have difficulty seeing at night and often get headaches.

The cause of the weakening is due to an imbalance of enzymes within the cornea itself that leads to high levels of damaging “reactive species” chemicals. Different types of reactive species include super-oxides, hydrogen peroxide, and nitric oxide. These substances essentially are free radicals that cause oxidative damage to the cornea.