Keratoconus – Its Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Keratoconus - Its Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Keratoconus is an eye condition in which the cornea of the eye changes its shape from dome shape to cone shape.

This eye condition is affected by a lot of factors.


In our eye, there is a presence of outer protective covering called as the cornea. The cornea is the transparent dome-shaped covering of the eye. It helps in focusing the light and also assists in the information of the vision. There are small collagen fibres present in the eye which help in maintaining the shape of the cornea. As the collagen fibres weaken due to the absence or presence of low amounts of antioxidants, they then lose their ability to hold the cornea in proper shape. This causes the cornea to bulge out and form a cone-like structure. When the cornea turns into a shape of a cone then this eye condition is termed as keratoconus. Keratoconus is not a very common eye condition. If a person suffers from keratoconus then they have blurred vision and have difficulty in viewing objects. This is because the cone-shaped cornea does not help in focusing the light and hinders the image formation causing blurry vision. Changes in the shape of the cornea cause change in the vision and you may not be able to see clearly without the help of eyeglasses. Keratoconus is generally mistaken as the normal eye condition (near-sightedness or far-sightedness) as you may feel at ease while using an eyeglass. Though for some people the condition may not be as serious and can be cured easily but for some, it may require to get corneal transplantation for proper vision.

Causes and symptoms of keratoconus

  • There are no particular causes associated with keratoconus. Most of the children are born with keratoconus, and their condition worsens if proper care and treatment are not given to them. Studies have suggested that keratoconus is rather a hereditary disease than a normal occurring disease as keratoconus is known to run in families.
  • There has been no evidence of any prior injury or any eye condition that would lead to a change in the shape of the cornea. It is observed that the shape of the cornea starts to change itself as early as in the teen years or as late as at the age of 30 and above. It has been observed that the change in the shape of the cornea is slow and takes several years. This change in the cornea can stop by itself or would continue to change itself for a period of several years.
  • It is seen that the people with keratoconus condition have both the eyes affected and feel more comfortable in using eyeglasses to correct their blurry vision. There have been other studies that suggested keratoconus is associated with other genetic disorders like down syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta and retinitis pigmentosa.
  • The tissues present in the eyes can also break down due to various other factors including inflammation in the eyes due to allergy or atopic eye condition. The change in the vision caused by keratoconus occurs in two ways, The first one is irregular astigmatism and the other is an increase in the near-sightedness of a person.
  • The cornea in a normal condition is usually dome-shaped and has a smooth surface if a person gets affected by keratoconus then this shape changes to cone shape and the smooth surface becomes irregular or wavy in nature. This type of structure of the cornea causes irregular astigmatism. In some people, the front of the cornea expands to the extent that only objects placed near to the eyes are visible and the distant objects are blurred. This type of keratoconus causes an increase in the near-sightedness of the person.
  • The vigorous rubbing of eyes is also linked to an increase in the progression rate of keratoconus. Rubbing of eyes hard causes the breakdown of the cornea which in turn leads to faster progression of the eye condition.

Getting a comprehensive eye exam can help ophthalmologists to determine keratoconus and can provide a better treatment option. Symptoms that may help you to determine whether you may suffer from keratoconus or not are having a double vision when looking with one eye open and the other eye closed, objects placed near and far appear blurry and only objects placed close to the eye are visible clearly, the appearance of halos around the bright lights, triple ghost images and appearance of light streaks, frequent need for a change of eyeglasses, clouding of vision, the appearance of scar tissue on the cornea due to its swelling and discomfort in the fitting of eye lenses.

Diagnosis of keratoconus is made through an eye exam in which an ophthalmologist will measure the curvature of the cornea and will compare it with the normal cornea. Change in the measurement will suggest that there has been a significant change in the shape of the cornea. Mapping of the surface of the cornea can also help in studying its surface and the detailed image can provide a current condition of the surface of the cornea.


Keratoconus is an eye condition in which the type of treatment depends on the severity of your condition.

  • Mild keratoconus condition does not require any treatment as the vision is cured by wearing correct eyeglasses and contact lenses. Eyeglasses and contact lenses correct the distorted vision but as the shape of the cornea changes, the need to change the lenses is there to have a clear vision.
  • Hard contact lenses are the lenses that fit to the cornea correctly and are very rigid. They are generally used for advanced conditions in the keratoconus. These lenses may be uncomfortable at first and can adjust later on. Other alternatives of rigid lenses are the piggyback lenses which have a hard exterior and a soft interior. These are less uncomfortable and should be worn under proper prescription.
  • Scleral lenses are the lenses that sit on the sclera part of the eye rather than the cornea. They adjust themselves according to the shape of the cornea and are used in the advanced keratoconus condition in which the shape of the cornea changes fast.
  • Cornea collagen cross-linking is in the therapeutic technique in which the cornea of the eye is stiffened to prevent further change in its shape. The cornea is first saturated with the riboflavin drops and then treated with UV rays. This technique reduces progressive vision loss and stabilizes the cornea at the early stages of the disease.
  • The surgical option includes the removal of the cornea and replacing it with the new cornea. This is called as penetrating keratoplasty and the whole cornea is replaced in this surgical process.
  • The other surgical option includes deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty in which only the outer lining of the cornea is replaced with the donor’s cornea and the inner lining is not replaced. This type of surgery avoids the rejection of the donor’s cornea by the immune system of the person.
  • Intacs are medical devices that are used to treat keratoconus. In this, the Intacs are inserted in the cornea and they then reshape the cornea into a flatter and dome shape. The vision of the person receiving this treatment is restored to a certain level and eyeglasses and contact lenses can be used by them after the treatment.

Surgical options are best suited for those people who have advanced stages of keratoconus. Mild conditions can be handled by wearing eyeglasses and contact lenses to clear the vision. It is advised to visit a doctor for a proper consultation and to get the best treatment according to the advancement in keratoconus.

The best way to treat your eyes is to visit your eye care professional and get your eyes checked regularly. He will be able to assess the best method of treatment for your eye ailment. Visit our website Eyemantra. To book an appointment call at +91-8851044355. Or mail us at [email protected]. Our other services include Retina SurgerySpecs RemovalCataract Surgery, and many more.

Related Articles :

Eye Styes

Squint Eye Treatment

Visual Field Test For Glaucoma

Make An Appointment

Free Tele-Consultation

Book Appointment or Video Consultation online with top eye doctors