Keratoconus eye disease is a condition in which the cornea becomes progressively thinner, ultimately bulging outward in the shape of a cone, explains the National Keratoconus Foundation. The condition is noninflammatory and significantly impairs vision, potentially requiring a corneal transplant, notes WebMD.
Keratoconus eye disease occurs when there are not enough antioxidants present in the cornea to protect the collagen from the harmful byproducts made by corneal cells, states WebMD. Collagen is the name of the protein fibers that hold the cornea in its usual dome shape. The condition is most often diagnosed in teenage patients, although it is not uncommon for doctors to see it in children or patients up to age 30. Rarely, people first develop keratoconus eye disease at later ages.
About one in every 2,000 people has keratoconus eye disease, meaning it is neither a common nor a rare condition, according to the National Keratoconus Foundation. People diagnosed with the condition visualize the world differently than people with normally shaped corneas because it is the job of the corneas to refract light entering the eye. In the early stages of the disease, patients commonly experience only slightly blurry vision and light sensitivity, so they may only require eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct their vision problems. More advanced treatments become necessary as the condition progresses.