​Keratoconus


Keratoconus is a disease of the cornea of the eye, the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil. It is a degenerative disorder, whereby the cornea thins down, and its shape changes, making it more conical. Because of the irregular shape of the cornea, light cannot be focused correctly on the retina, causing blurred vision and sensitivity to light. This affects various activities, which you cannot do properly if you have keratoconus, such as driving, working on a computer, reading or watching television.

Keratoconus usually affects both eyes and is more common in younger people between ten to twenty five years of age. People with a family history of this disease are also at a higher risk. As it’s a degenerative disorder, it progresses slowly over ten years or longer.

Keratoconus occurs when fibres (collagen) that hold the cornea together weaken, causing the cornea to lose shape. This can happen due to an imbalance of protective enzymes in the cornea or due to a previous eye disorder such as retinitis pigmentosa. It can also occur due to excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, wearing poorly fitting contact lenses, vigorous eye rubbing or chronic eye irritation.


As keratoconus is a progressive disease, the symptoms worsen over time. Initially you will experience slightly blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light, as well as symptoms such as:

  • Vision distortion at all distances

  • Poor night vision

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Glare

  • Mild eye irritation

As the disorder progresses, other signs and symptoms will also be exhibited, such as:

  • Increasing sensitivity to light

  • Frequent changes in eye glasses prescription

  • Inability to wear contact lenses

  • Sudden worsening of symptoms

  • Increased blurring and distortion of vision

  • “Ghost” images – the appearance of several images when looking at one object

  • Noticeably worse vision in one eye

If you suspect you or your child may have keratoconus, consult an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) working with the Eye and ENT Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital to get an expert medical opinion and guaranteed quality health care.

If you feel you have irregular curvature of the eye and you notice the above symptoms, you must get yourself assessed by an eye doctor for keratoconus. Worsening of the above symptoms could be an indication that the disorder is progressing, and immediate medical advice must be sought.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, which will help reach an initial diagnosis for your disorder.

Subsequently, a physical examination of the eye will be conducted, including a test to check the shape of the cornea, called ‘corneal topography’. In this test, a picture of the cornea is taken and analysed within a few seconds. Slit-lamp eye tests also help in diagnosing severe cases of keratoconus.

Yet another test, called ‘keratometry’ a circle of light is focused on your eye and the reflection from your eye helps determine the shape and curvature of the cornea.

The Eye and ENT Service Line of The Aga Khan University Hospital is equipped with the latest equipment and state-of-the-art technology for the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders such as keratoconus. You can be assured of receiving multidisciplinary care from our team of expert ophthalmologists for the diagnosis and treatment of your keratoconus.

The treatment for keratoconus will depend on the stage of the disease. In the initial stages, prescription eye glasses can help correct vision problems. As the condition progresses, special, rigid contact lenses may be prescribed to help light refract correctly without distorting vision.

Some other, advanced treatment options include:

  • Corneal implants or corneal inserts to help reshape the cornea

  • PTK (Phototherapeutic Keratectomy) for removing corneal scars with the help of laser

  • Corneal transplant in severe cases of keratoconus, in which the diseased cornea is replaced with a donor cornea

Discuss your treatment option and possible risks and complications of any procedure in detail with your eye doctor.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
 
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
 
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.