The cornea is the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber. The cornea, with the anterior chamber and lens, refracts light, with the cornea accounting for approximately two-thirds of the eye's total optical power.
Keratoconus (lat. Keratokonus) is a disease of the cornea in which its structural shapes changes; it becomes very convex and thin due to its progressive thinning, dilatation and protrusion. This change causes the cornea to have a more conical shape than its normal curve. The cornea of patients with keratoconus is weakened, softer structure than normal. Keratoconus leads to numerous refractive abnormalities and a decrease in visual acuity, such as substantial distortion of vision, with multiple images, streaking and sensitivity to light. It is generally a bilateral process, however it presents and develops asymmetrically. Keratoconus can appear in eyes already affected by myopia or astigmatism.
What can cause keratoconus?
According to its origin, keratoconus can be primary or secondary.
No specific cause has been determined yet for the development of primary keratoconus. Factors such genetics, immune system, endocrine factors, stress, environmental impacts can all play an important role. It is generally a chronic disease, and affects both eyes in different degrees.
Causes for secondary keratoconus can be corneal surgery, infections ( viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic), inflammation, injury, rubbing of eyes. It is generally acute and affects one eye.
Stages of keratoconus:
Keratoconus, usually, starts with a weakening of the corneal tissues, followed by a flattening of the surface of the cornea, which leads to a conical cornea due to the intraocular pressure.
There are 4 stages of keratoconus:
I, II: mild myopia, astigmatism and an insignificant rarefaction of the cornea.
III, IV: the cornea gets considerable thinner and changes the shape from flattening to conical. Towards the end of stage, IV, the cornea becomes opaque in the upper part of the cone.
We differentiate chronic (slowly progressing) and acute (progressing) keratoconus. The latter is a very urgent situation and can be noticed with the bare eye.
This is general information and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualiﬁed healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider who will be able to determine the appropriateness of the information for your speciﬁc situation.
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