Keratoconus is estimated to occur in 1 out of every 2,000 persons in the general population, with signs and symptoms typically first appearing in the teens and early twenties[1]. While the exact cause of keratoconus is unknown, it is believed that genetics do play a role[2].

If there is a family history of the condition, parents should take their children for recommended eye exams and monitor for warning signs such as blurry vision. If caught early enough, there are treatment options that can effectively prevent these young adults from needing a corneal transplant later in their life.

In this week’s KC Experts, Dr. Darcy Wolsey of Eye Institute of Utah and Dr. Peter Hersh of the Cornea & Laser Eye Institute discuss the importance of monitoring and treating keratoconus at a young age if there is a family history of keratoconus.

How can parents be proactive about monitoring their children’s eye health if keratoconus runs in the family?

Dr. Wolsey: If they have a family history of keratoconus and the children start needing glasses, I would recommend getting screened for keratoconus – especially starting at age 12.

Are there early keratoconus warning signs that parents should be watching for if there is a known family history of keratoconus?

Dr. Wolsey: Vision getting blurry, need for glasses.

Other signs to watch for are squinting and rapidly changing prescription.

If diagnosed, can keratoconus impact an individual’s ability to be successful in the classroom?

Dr. Hersh: Yes. Visual quality decreases over time in the KC patient, if left untreated.

[1] Kennedy R. H., Bourne W. M., Dyer J. A. A 48-year clinical and epidemiologic study of keratoconus. The American Journal of Ophthalmology. 1986;101(3):267–273. doi: 10.1016/0002-9394(86)90817-2.

[2] Open Ophthalmol J. 2017 Jul 31;11:201-210. Genetics in Keratoconus – What is New? Moussa S1, Grabner G1, Ruckhofer J1, Dietrich M1, Reitsamer H1.