Your cornea – the clear layer at the front of your eye – is usually dome-shaped. However, keratoconus causes the cornea to bulge outwards, in the shape of a cone. You may have no symptoms in the early stages. Though as the condition progresses, your vision may become slightly blurred.
Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms and causes of keratoconus, and how we diagnose it.
What is keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition with no known way of preventing it. It affects roughly 1 in every 2000 people and commonly starts to develop around puberty, between ages 10 and 25.
As the condition progresses, your vision will become poorer as your prescription changes and astigmatism worsens.
It is often more noticeable in one eye than the other, though it usually affects both eyes. It may progress slowly over several years.
If your vision worsens suddenly, speak to one of our ophthalmologists (eye specialists) for advice. A sudden vision change should always be assessed by a medical professional. Contact us for assistance.
Symptoms of keratoconus
In its earliest stages, people with keratoconus are often unaware they have it as they experience no obvious symptoms.
Your symptoms will become more noticeable and severe as the condition develops.
During stage 1, you may find it harder to see at a distance (short-sightedness), and your vision may be blurry. You might also experience symptoms of astigmatism, including eye strain, headaches, and difficulty concentrating on close-by objects. You might find that you need to squint to see clearly.
At stage 2, however, you may experience the above symptoms as well as those listed below.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Increasingly poor vision
- Double vision in one eye (monocular diplopia) or both eyes
- Glare and ‘halos’ around light
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Eye irritation or headaches
- Frequent change in glasses prescription
- Irregular astigmatism
- Scarring of the cornea
- Thinning of the cornea
In the final stage, stage 3, your symptoms will likely be more severe. Your vision might worsen considerably, and you may be more sensitive to light. The bulging of your cornea may also be more noticeable.
If these symptoms sound familiar, speak to one of our ophthalmologists (eye specialists). We will assess your symptoms to determine the possible causes.
Getting an early consultation can prevent loss of vision and further damage to your cornea which is inevitable as the condition progresses.
As the early stages show no symptoms, we often diagnose it during an assessment for laser vision correction procedures. Though, your optician may diagnose it during a routine eye exam and recommend a referral to an ophthalmologist.
If you already had a diagnosis of astigmatism that is changing rapidly, we would screen for keratoconus. In our initial consultation, we will assess your eyes and symptoms. This includes checking for refractive errors and whether you need glasses. We will go through risk factors, such as eye rubbing and a family history of keratoconus.
We will also perform scans of your cornea. The most accurate method of diagnosis is using AI-powered corneal scans. These provide a detailed analysis of the structure of your cornea. Mr Tariq Ayoub will explain your assessment results and the most appropriate treatment options if you have keratoconus.
Watch our videos of Mr Ayoub explaining the causes of keratoconus.
Other risk factors include:
- Being black or Latino
- Certain disorders, such as Down syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Chronic eye inflammation; can occur due to allergies, asthma, etc.
- Age – starting around puberty
Anyone can get keratoconus, though these risk factors can increase the likelihood of getting it. If you fit into one or several of these categories, pay close attention to keratoconus symptoms.
Visit our keratoconus treatment page to learn more about treatment options.
Book an appointment
As keratoconus develops, it can lead to a severe loss of vision, corneal thinning and scarring.
Speak to our eye specialist early if you’re showing the signs and symptoms of keratoconus. Our experienced specialists diagnose keratoconus using AI-powered technology.
Book a consultation with our experts today to arrange an assessment and testing.
If you’re worried that another eye specialist has missed your symptoms, we offer a second opinion service to put your mind at ease.