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What is Keratoconus?

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a hereditary disease of the cornea (cornea). Heredity seems to play a very important role in the development of keratoconus.

However, the problems of keratoconus do not arise until puberty. Rubbing the eyes has been shown to significantly accelerate the progression of keratoconus. Keratoconus starts with a local thinning of the cornea in one eye. At this dilution, the cornea is locally pushed forward by the eye pressure. This creates a bulge in the shape of a cone. Usually the other eye also follows with the formation of a less severe form of keratoconus. In 80 percent of cases, the keratoconus has a mild form. However, the complaints can already be very serious. It can only be seen with the naked eye in severe forms of keratoconus. Keratoconus is quite common; in about 1 in 400 people. This means that the Netherlands has approximately 45,000 people with keratoconus. Someone with keratoconus often also suffers from allergies, eczema and/or asthma.

What are the consequences?

The cornea forms the front of the eye. The cone is more curved than the rest of the cornea. Due to this increased curvature, the strength increases locally. The cone creates a high negative strength, while the strength hardly changes in the rest of the cornea. A person with keratoconus then sees, very characteristically, shadows on the underside of letters and objects. These shadows can be seen much better when viewed with one eye. First of all, these shadows have an adverse effect on the contrast sensitivity of the view. In a more advanced stage, the vision may also decrease. Because keratoconus starts in one eye and gradually affects visual performance, it is often noticed late.

Keratoconus lowers contrast sensitivity and, at a later stage, reduces vision. It increases light sensitivity and can cause double images that you see with one eye. Usually, despite the correction of contact lenses, someone with keratoconus sees less well than someone who has no correction or has been corrected for myopia.

Keratoconus in brief:

  • Usually occurs during puberty
  • Rubbing the eye causes progression
  • Local thinning of the cornea creates a cone
  • The strength changes locally due to the cone
  • One eye is almost always more severely affected
  • Reduces contrast sensitivity first and then vision

What is keratoconus and how is it treated?

Keratoconus is a disease of the cornea. Due to the genetic predisposition, the cornea is weaker than normal. Around puberty, a locally thinned piece of cornea develops. A bulge in the form of a cone is formed in this thin spot.

Why is keratoconus often detected so late?

Keratoconus first develops in one eye and progresses gradually. When you see a little less every day, it is hardly noticed. If you look with both eyes, it is even less noticeable. For example, it often happens that the first diagnosis is made when the vision is already significantly reduced.

Does Keratoconus Make You Blind?

Keratoconus does not lead to blindness. The poor vision can still be sufficiently corrected with glasses in mild forms of keratoconus. In more severe forms, contact lenses can restore vision. When the cornea becomes completely cloudy due to the keratoconus, a corneal transplant can be performed.

Can you cure keratoconus?

Unfortunately, that won’t work. Keratoconus can be treated well with Corneal Cross-linking. This treatment prevents further progression and loss of vision. So it is important to have the progression of keratoconus checked by an ophthalmologist.

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