What Is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a condition that affects the cornea — the clear, dome-shaped portion at the front of the eye. This condition causes the normal aspheric shape of the cornea to be distorted and develop into a cone-like bulge.

As keratoconus progresses, the cornea will bow and thin, becoming irregular and sometimes forming scars. While this is a progressive disease, it is generally slow and can stop at any stage, ranging from mild to severe.

What Causes Keratoconus?

Currently, doctors have not identified a clear reason as to why keratoconus develops, although it is associated with eye allergies and excessive rubbing of the eyes. The condition does show signs of being genetic, with 1 out of 10 patients having a parent who has had it as well.

People with keratoconus typically develop it in their late teens or early 20s, with symptoms slowly worsening over the next 10 to 20 years.

Chart comparing details of normal cornea and keratoconus

Symptoms of Keratoconus

Keratoconus often affects both of the eyes, but the impact on each eye can vary.

In early stages of keratoconus, symptoms typically include:


  • Mild Blurred Vision
  • Distorted Vision
  • Sensitivity to Light
  • Redness or Swelling

As keratoconus develops, later-stage symptoms can include:


  • Worsened blurry and distorted vision
  • Nearsightedness
  • Astigmatism
  • Inability to wear contact lenses

Keratoconus Treatments

Keratoconus can be diagnosed with a standard eye exam that involves your ophthalmologist examining the cornea and possibly measuring its curve.

Mild cases of keratoconus can be treated early with eyeglasses to correct vision impairment, or sometimes special contact lenses. While contact lenses often provide significant improvement in vision, wearing them is not a cure for keratoconus, nor do they alter the course of the disease. Great care and expertise must be used in the fitting of contact lenses for keratoconus.

Frequent check-ups and frequent lens changes may be necessary due to subtle and unpredictable changes in the shape of the cornea.

Other treatments can include:

Keratoconus Treatment at Dean McGee Eye Institute

Keratoconus impacts everyone differently, and treatments are dependent on the severity of the condition. If you or a loved one is dealing with keratoconus, the team of leading ophthalmologists at Dean McGee Eye Institute can help! Call 405.271.1095 or 800.787.9017 to schedule your appointment today.