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Eye Conditions



Keratoconus is a disease of the cornea that results in large amounts of corneal steepening. The cornea is the clear dome-shaped layer of the front of the eye. Keratoconus develops in the teenage years around puberty and progresses until middle adulthood.

What causes a Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a result of thinning of the bottom of the cornea. This thinning causes the cornea to
bend outward making it excessively steep. This results in high amounts of myopia (near-sightedness) and astigmatism. Various studies have been conducted to determine what the cause may be. It was originally thought that keratoconus was the result of excessive eye rubbing that overtime thinned out the bottom cornea. However, more recent studies suggest that atopic diseases such as allergic rhinitis may be the actual cause and not the resulting rubbing of itchy eyes. It is also thought that there is a genetic component since it has been shown to run in families.

Symptoms of Keratoconus

Decreased vision that cannot be corrected with glasses or soft contact lenses that gets worse over time; often occurs in both eyes.

How is it Treated?

Currently, there is no cure for keratoconus but there are ways to manage the disease. Optimal vision can be achieved through rigid gas permeable or sclera contact lenses. These contacts allow the tears to pool behind the contact and around the misshapen cornea thus providing a uniform refracting surface for light to travel into the eye. Soft lenses are not an option because they sit directly onto the eye and do not allow tears to fill up behind them.


Occasionally the cornea may become so thin that a corneal transplant may be needed. In a corneal transplant the whole cornea or just part of it is removed and replaced with a donor cornea. Donor corneas are always at risk of developing rejection by the body making transplants a last resort.


Corneal cross-linking is a surgical technique that is currently in the clinical trial stage. The idea is that the cornea can be strengthened by forming more bonds between the collagen fibers that make up the cornea. This is achieved by the applying riboflavin to the cornea and then shining ultraviolet light onto it to induce bond formation.


Discover the Retinal Specialists at the OSU Eye & Ear Institute.

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