Keratoconus (KC) is a progressive, degenerative, non-inflammatory, bilateral (but usually asymmetric) ectatic corneal disease of the eye.

It is characterised by paraxial stromal thinning and weakening that leads to corneal surface distortion, progressive corneal thinning and protruding irregular conical shape.

Keratoconus has been associated with a variety of causes for example :

  • Heredity
  • Environment – more prevalent in hot, dry climates
  • Atopic diseases with their associated conditions (asthma, hay fever, eczema, allergies)
  • Oxidative stress – inability to eliminate/neutralize harmful free radicals which weakens the collagen and thins in cornea
  • Endocrine system – strong association with puberty
  • Eye rubbing – due to itchy eyes

Treatment options include:

There are several treatment options for Keratoconus. Finding the right treatment option depends on the stage and progression of your patient’s condition.

  • Spectacles – in early stages
  • Soft lenses -in early stages
  • Rigid Gas Permeable Corneal Lenses – in moderate to advanced stages
  • Scleral Lenses – in advanced to severe cases
  • Piggy Back Lenses – specific cases with a soft lens worn under RGP lens
  • Hybrid Lens – specific cases needing lens with RGP center and soft edge
  • Surgical Procedures (15-20% of patients need surgery)
  • Corneal cross linking – surgical treatment with Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) and UV A light to try to retard the progression of the disease and strengthen the cornea
  • Intacs/ Ferrara rings – intrastromal semi-circular plastic corneal ring inserts to help reshape the cornea. They are a minimally invasive surgical option used to flatten the shape of cornea to improve vision
  • Corneal transplants – dependent on availability of donor corneas in South Africa

We encourage optometrists to screen all patients with every routine eye examination and create their own practice database to assist in gathering South African keratoconus statistics

#WorldKCDay 10 November 2018