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The short answer is that excessive computer use does not directly cause or worsen keratoconus. However prolonged computer use is linked to a reduction of frequency and fullness of our blinks, and this in turn can lead to symptoms which cause someone to rub their eyes, and rubbing of the eyes can make keratoconus worse.  The following article will provide you with more information about computer use and keratoconus.

What is keratoconus?

It is a progressive eye disease involving the cornea, the front part of your eye, where your cornea progressively thins over time, causing your cornea to bulge out, protruding outward and causing an irregular corneal surface. Keratoconus occurs in approximately one in 2,000 individuals, typically beginning in puberty and progressing into the mid-30s.

What are the symptoms of keratoconus?

Normally your cornea is round smooth and has an irregular surface. As a result of keratoconus, your eyes' irregular shape can lead to irregular astigmatism, scarring of the cornea, and this means that when light enters your eyes, it is out of focus, which can cause a variety of symptoms. Here are some of these symptoms:

  • You may experience blurry vision
  • There may be distortions in your vision that cause straight lines to appear wavy or bent.
  • Shadows may appear around letters or objects.
  • You could have increased sensitivity to light and glare due to the scarring of your cornea.
  • When you have more severe keratoconus, your eyes can become red, swollen, and even painful because certain areas of the cornea become so thin that they can rupture, resulting in pain.

What are the causes of keratoconus?

Keratoconus has a complex mechanism of action. There's a genetic component associated with keratoconus, and it is believed to be due to the enzymatic breakdown of the collagen structures within your cornea resulting in your cornea to become thinner.

Can computer use make my keratoconus worse?

There is no evidence that excessive computer use directly worsens keratoconus. However, excessive computer use can lead to dry eyes, and when your eyes feel dry, you're more likely to rub them. The excessive rubbing of your eyes can damage your cornea by causing micro damage to the collagen structure inside your eyes. Your enzyme tries to repair that corneal tissue, but it only makes things worse. The excessive eye rubbing, then, can consequently lead to the keratoconus advancing at a faster pace, thereby damaging the cornea. If you ever experience itchy eyes or if you feel like your eyes are dry after excessive computer use, it's really important to treat the dry eyes and not rub your eyes because excessive eye rubbing may further damage your cornea if you have keratoconus.

Why does computer use cause dry eye symptoms?

One of the mechanisms our body uses to replenish our tear film is our blinks. Both the frequency of blinking is important as well as the fullness of our blinks. Multiple studies show that when we look at digital screens for prolonged periods we blink less often and less fully.

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