Welcome to a Full-Service Optometric Practice
  Serving Chapel Hill for over 40 Years


Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory condition of the cornea in which there is progressive central thinning of the cornea changing it from dome-shaped to cone-shaped. Keratoconus comes from the Greek word meaning Conical Cornea (Cone shaped- Cornea). The cornea is the clear outer covering of the front of the eye that provides most of the eyes' optical power. Therefore, abnormalities of the cornea can significantly affect the way we see the world. Keratoconus is not a blinding disorder, but it is a progressive condition, usually beginning in the teens or 20s, but often stabilizing after a few years. It usually occurs in both eyes.

The cause of keratoconus is poorly understood, but it runs in families and may have genetic origins; about 7 percent of people with keratoconus have a family history of the disease.

It has been suggested that there is less than a 1 in 10 chance of having a child with some degree of keratoconus if one of the parents have keratoconus without a family history. It occurs in all ethnic groups and is slightly more common in females.

Keratoconus has been associated with other medical disorders including atopic disease, Down's syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan's syndrome, craniofacial dysostosis, osteogenesis imperfecta and others. Even excessive eye rubbing has been implicated in this disease.

Treatment of keratoconus depends on the severity of the condition. Initially, eyeglasses are often successful in correcting the myopia and astigmatism. As the disease advances rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses are used to correct the blurred vision of keratoconus by helping to neutralize the astigmatism of the cornea. An alternative for people for whom rigid lenses are not comfortable is a "piggyback" arrangement with a soft lens next to the cornea and an RGP lens on top of that. Good lens fit is essential for people with keratoconus, since a poor fit could aggravate the condition.

In about 10 percent of people, the cornea becomes too steep, or scarred, and contacts can no longer be tolerated or cannot provide the necessary vision correction. In these cases a corneal transplant is performed and has approximately 90% success rate.

For more information or to subscribe to their news letter visit the National Keratoconus Foundation web site.