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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What is keratoconus?

Keratoconus is an eye condition that causes your cornea to become thinned and raised. The cornea is the clear surface of your eye. You may have vision loss in one or both eyes. Keratoconus occurs most often in adolescents and adults 20 or older. The cause of your keratoconus may not be known.

What increases my risk for keratoconus?

  • Injury to your eyes caused by rubbing, scratching, or a foreign object
  • Wearing hard contact lenses
  • An eye condition such as retinopathy of prematurity
  • A medical condition such as Down syndrome
  • Genes passed to you from your mother or father

What are the signs and symptoms of keratoconus?

Your healthcare provider will examine your cornea for curves, lines, or areas that are not even. Your provider may also see swelling on your lower eyelid when you look down, or a ring of iron deposits in your eye. You may have the following symptoms:

  • Blurry vision or difficulty seeing objects that are far away
  • Eyeglass prescriptions that need to be changed or adjusted often
  • Eye pain

How is keratoconus diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms. Your provider will also ask about your health history and if anyone in your family has keratoconus. You may need any of the following tests:

  • A visual acuity test is used to check your vision and eye movements.
  • Topography is used to measure the size, shape, and health of your cornea. A camera and computer are used to take pictures of your eyes.
  • Keratometry is a test used to measure the curve of your cornea.

How is keratoconus treated?

  • Eyeglasses help improve your vision.
  • Contact lenses are fitted to your eyes to help shape your cornea. This will help your eyes see and feel better. Wear contacts only as directed so that you do not cause more damage to your eyes. Ask for more information on how to insert and remove contacts carefully.
  • Surgery may be needed if other treatments do not work. Surgery can be used to fix the shape of your cornea so that you can see better. Surgery may be used to place permanent supports that will correct the shape of your cornea. Your cornea may need to be replaced if other treatments do not work.

What can I do to manage my symptoms?

  • Wear contacts or glasses as directed.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun. Too much time in the sun without eye protection may cause your condition to get worse.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You suddenly lose your vision.
  • You have sudden vision changes such as blurred vision, double vision, or seeing halos around lights.
  • You develop sudden, sharp eye pain.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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