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What Conditions Can Cause Keratoconus?

child rubbing eyes keratoconus

Keratoconus is an eye disease that is defined by thinning and steepening of the cornea. These changes can be exacerbated by or initiated by other factors and conditions.

There are systemic medical conditions which are linked to developing keratoconus and there are other eye conditions which may contribute to the development of the disease.


Understanding Keratoconus

The cornea is the clear front part of the eye which is responsible for focusing light into the eye.

In a typical cornea, the surface is smooth and perfectly rounded.

In keratoconus, the cornea becomes progressively thinner in the center and causes the overall shape to become more cone-like.

The center portion of the cornea will begin to protrude compared to the rest of the cornea. This change in shape causes distortion and blurry vision.

Often, this distortion cannot be corrected with glasses and requires special contact lenses for best vision.


Systemic Medical Conditions that Cause Keratoconus

A few medical conditions are associated with a risk of developing keratoconus. While there is a known risk for an increased risk of keratoconus, these conditions will not always be linked with developing keratoconus or any other eye condition.

Many conditions that impact the collagen or bone tissue can be linked to keratoconus. Among these conditions are osteogenesis imperfecta, Marfan syndrome, and Ehler Danlos syndrome.

These conditions all impact collagen or collagen production. The cornea is composed of the same collagen tissue and when it is damaged can lead to a weaker cornea that is susceptible to keratoconus.

There are also conditions which have a genetic cause and have been linked to an increase in the risk for keratoconus. The two main genetic conditions which are linked to developing keratoconus are Turner Syndrome and Down Syndrome.


Eye Conditions that Cause Keratoconus

Like the systemic medical conditions that can cause keratoconus, there are eye conditions which can weaken the collagen in the cornea.

There are several inherited corneal dystrophies that can cause long term damage to the cornea and predispose the cornea to keratoconus.

Conditions that result in lots of eye rubbing can result in changes to the cornea and lead to keratoconus.  Itching from allergies in chronic allergic conditions like atopic keratoconjunctivitis or vernal keratoconjunctivitis may lead to excessive eye rubbing.

Another cause of eye rubbing is poor vision in young children. In these cases, the child will rub the eyes to attempt to stimulate any vision that is possible.

In conditions such as cone dystrophy, Lever’s optic neuropathy, retinitis pigmentosa, or retinopathy of prematurity, the vision is so poor that physical stimulation by eye rubbing is needed to help create any useful vision.


Keratoconus without a Cause

A large number of cases of keratoconus will occur without a specific known cause.  These cases may be due to genetic predisposition or may truly be random in nature.

If keratoconus is diagnosed, the conditions which are known to be related to it need to be explored and evaluated to ensure that there is no underlying cause of the disease.


Our eye doctors at Contact Lens Institute of Nevada excel in the treatment and management of scleral lenses, myopia management, orthokeratology (ortho-K) and other custom contact lens solutions. Call our optometrists at 702-747-4070 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about keratoconus.  Our eye doctors, Dr. Stephanie Woo and Dr. Jenny Wong, provide the highest quality specialty contact lens services in the Las Vegas area.


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