There is evidence to suggest that keratoconus has a genetic component. If you have a family history of the condition, your risk increases. However, the genetic mechanisms are complex and not fully understood.

Given the recent findings from the Gutenberg Health Study, with a prevalence of keratoconus now estimated to be 1 in 200 among Caucasians, it's now likely that over 650,000 Americans, within just the Caucasian population in the United States, could be affected by keratoconus.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease that affects the cornea, which is the front part of your eye. Over time, the cornea becomes thinner and begins to bulge outward into a cone-like shape. This change results in an irregular corneal surface and causes a variety of symptoms such as blurred vision, distortions, and eye redness.

Symptoms of Keratoconus

Keratoconus can lead to a host of symptoms, which may include:

  • Blurring in your vision
  • Distortions in your vision
  • Shadowing around letters and objects
  • Increased sensitivity to light and glare
  • Eye redness and swelling
  • Eye pain, depending on the stage of the disease

Causes of Keratoconus

The exact cause of keratoconus isn't entirely known. However, it's believed to be a complex condition that may have a genetic component. A family history of keratoconus could increase your risk of developing the disease. Another factor contributing to the progression of keratoconus is the enzymatic breakdown of collagen fibers within the cornea, causing it to become thinner over time.

Eye Rubbing and Keratoconus

Constant eye rubbing can cause micro-damages to the collagen structures within the cornea, accelerating the progression of keratoconus. If you're prone to rubbing your eyes, you might be at a higher risk for this eye condition.

Genetic Conditions Related to Keratoconus

There are several other genetic conditions that may predispose someone to developing keratoconus. These include:

  • Down Syndrome: People with Down syndrome may engage in eye-rubbing activities, increasing the risk.
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa: Another eye condition that may have a link.
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: Known for affecting skin and joints, but also has ocular implications.
  • Asthma and Hay Fever: Respiratory conditions might also play a role.

Next Steps if You're Concerned

If you're worried that you may have keratoconus or are experiencing symptoms, it's crucial to get a thorough evaluation. Scheduling an eye exam can help determine the best course of treatment for you.

Visit a Specialty Contacts vision clinic at an Amplify EyeCare practice near you:


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