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Keratoconus FAQs



What causes keratoconus?

The cause of keratoconus is not fully understood, although there are indications it may be a genetic condition. Continuous or vigorous eye rubbing in susceptible individuals may lead to the development of keratoconus and should be avoided.

Keratoconus has also been linked to other medical conditions, such as glaucoma, hay fever and sleep apnoea.

How common is keratoconus?

Keratoconus is usually considered a rare condition, with previous studies suggesting it affects 1 in every 2000 people. However, a recent Australian study indicates that the incidence may be much higher – 1 in 84.1

Both sexes are equally affected and most cases are diagnosed between the ages of 15 to 30 years.

Does keratoconus affect both eyes?

Generally yes, although one eye tends to be worse than the other.

Does keratoconus cause blindness?

Severe cases may lead to legal blindness, but it’s not typical for a person to become totally blind from this condition. Current treatment options allow people with keratoconus to lead relatively normal lives. Corneal transplantations are reserved for patients who no longer respond to other treatments.

Does Medicare cover any of the cost of treating keratoconus?

A Medicare rebate is available for one of the treatment options for keratoconus – corneal collagen cross-linking. Please contact your nearest Vision Eye Institute clinic for further information.

References/further reading

  1. Chan E, Chong EW, Lingham G, Stevenson LJ, Sanfilippo PG, Hewitt AW, Mackey DA, Yazar S. Prevalence of Keratoconus Based on Scheimpflug Imaging: The Raine Study. Ophthalmology. 2020 Aug 26;S0161-6420(20)30838-1. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2020.08.020. ↩︎
  2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. EyeSmart: What Is Keratoconus? USA, 21 October 2020. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-keratoconus [Accessed online 13 July 2021].
  3. Mas Tur V, MacGregor C, Jayaswal R, O’Brart D, Maycock N. A review of keratoconus: Diagnosis, pathophysiology, and genetics. Surv Ophthalmol. 2017 Nov-Dec;62(6):770-783. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2017.06.009.

The information on this page is general in nature. All medical and surgical procedures have potential benefits and risks. Consult your ophthalmologist for specific medical advice.

Date last reviewed: 2023-03-03 | Date for next review: 2025-03-03

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