What Is Keratoconus: Signs and Symptoms

Keratoconus is a condition that causes the cornea to bulge outwards. Keratoconus is also called the conical cornea. The cornea shape changes take place over a long period and usually begin during the teen years. The clear front surface of your eye thins gradually and bulges outwards.

Your cornea is held in place by collagen. Collagen is the tiny protein fibers in your eyes. Cornea bulging happens when the collagen becomes weak and can no longer support the cornea in place. When this happens, the cornea changes its shape gradually.

Change in cornea shape happens when your cornea lacks enough protective antioxidants. Antioxidants work to protect the collagen fibers in your eyes. If the antioxidants levels become low, collagen weakens and causes your cornea to bulge.


Signs and Symptoms

You can experience the following symptoms if you have keratoconus:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Nearsightedness.
  • Glare.
  • Halos around light sources.
  • Distortion of vision.
  • Astigmatism.
  • Double vision.



Before treatment, your doctor will diagnose the condition by measuring your cornea shape. Your doctor can use corneal topography to do this. The doctor takes a photo of your cornea and looks at it closely to determine any abnormality.

Your doctor may recommend starting treatment by wearing new glasses if the case is mild. New prescription glasses can clear the condition before becoming severe. Doctors also recommend the use of firm gas permeable contacts as the first choice.

Over time, you may require to strengthen your cornea by using other treatments. Corneal collagen cross-linking is a treatment that can help stop your cornea from bulging. Your doctor can also flatten the cornea by implanting a ring under the surface of the cornea. The ring helps to flatten the bulging cone shape to improve vision.

Your doctor can recommend a cornea transplant if other treatments are not able to improve your vision. Cornea transplant is a safe procedure with over 90 percent successful outcomes. During the procedure, your doctor removes the center of the cornea and replaces it with a donated one. After the doctor stitches the new one in place, you may require contact lenses for daily use.


When to See a Doctor

It is advisable to see your optometrist or ophthalmologist if your eyesight worsens rapidly. The rapid damage to your vision happens when there is an irregular curvature of your eye. 


Preparing for Your Appointment

Before your appointment with your eye doctor, make a list of the symptoms you have, life changes, all medications you have had in the recent past, and the questions you can ask your doctor.


Risk Factors 

The cause of keratoconus is not known. However, some factors can increase its chances:

  • Vigorous rubbing of your eyes - Chronic and constant eye rubbing is associated with keratoconus. It may also cause the progression of keratoconus.
  • Family history of keratoconus.
  • Conditions like Down syndrome, asthma, hay fever, and Ehlers-Danlos.
  • Chronic inflammation of the eye - Irritants and allergies can cause constant inflammation that can contribute to damage to the cornea tissues.
  • Age - Keratoconus develops during the teenage years. As the disease progresses over the years, you may need surgery. The condition worsens with time.

For more on the signs and symptoms of keratoconus, visit Omaha Primary EyeCare at our office in Omaha, Nebraska. You can also call 402-383-0780 to book an appointment today.