Keratoconus, a progressive eye condition, causes the cornea to thin and weaken, leading to irregular vision.
The exact cause of keratoconus remains a mystery, but researchers believe it is a culmination of genetic and environmental factors. Genetics play a significant role, as approximately 1 in 50 people with keratoconus have a family history of the condition. Environmental factors, such as excessive eye rubbing, allergies, and certain autoimmune disorders, are also thought to contribute to its development.
Keratoconus often runs in families, suggesting a strong genetic component. Studies have identified several genes associated with an increased risk of developing keratoconus. These genes are involved in the production of collagen, a protein that provides structural support to the cornea. Alterations in these genes can lead to irregularities in the corneal structure, making it more susceptible to thinning and weakening.
While genetics play a primary role, environmental factors can trigger or accelerate the progression of keratoconus. Excessive eye rubbing is a significant risk factor, as it can damage the delicate corneal cells and contribute to corneal thinning. Allergic eye diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and hay fever, can also increase the risk of keratoconus. Additionally, certain autoimmune disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome, are associated with an increased prevalence of keratoconus.
Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during adolescence and pregnancy, may also play a role in the development or progression of keratoconus. Estrogen, a female sex hormone, is thought to influence collagen production and corneal structure. During periods of hormonal changes, the cornea may become more susceptible to thinning and distortion.
Unveiling the Mystery
While the exact cause of keratoconus remains elusive, ongoing research continues to shed light on the underlying mechanisms. Understanding the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to keratoconus is crucial for developing effective preventive measures and treatment strategies.
Seek Expert Guidance
If you are concerned about keratoconus or have noticed changes in your vision, consult an experienced eye doctor. Early diagnosis and intervention can help manage the condition and preserve vision. At The Eye Foundation, our team of skilled eye surgeons and specialists is dedicated to providing comprehensive care and support for individuals with keratoconus. Schedule an appointment today to embark on a journey towards clearer vision and improved eye health.