Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. The cornea is the clear, central part of the surface of the eye. In patients with keratoconus, the cone-shaped cornea deflects light and causes distorted vision.
Keratoconus has been estimated to occur in 1 out of every 2,000 people in the general population. Keratoconus often begins to develop between the teen years and the early 20s, although it can develop at any age. Changes in the shape of the cornea occur gradually, usually over several years. Patients with keratoconus often experience blurred and distorted vision, nearsightedness, and a glaring sensitivity to light.
Early stages of keratoconus can be treated with eyeglasses or soft contact lenses. For progressive keratoconus, treatment methods include rigid gas-permeable contact lenses, INTACS (plastic implants that flatten the cornea), and collagen cross-linking (light-activated vitamin eye drops). If keratoconus persists, corneal transplant surgery can be performed to correct the condition.