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Raising awareness of keratoconus

Dr Abi Tenen


Raising awareness of keratoconus

November 10 marks the launch of World Keratoconus Day, an annual day intended to raise awareness of this debilitating condition.

Keratoconus is a degenerative disorder characterised by thinning of the cornea, which is like the clear windscreen of the eye. The cornea, which is normally round or dome-shaped, starts to bulge and become cone-like instead. Given that the cornea is involved in bending (refracting) and focusing light rays onto the retina, this change leads to visual distortion, which can range from mild to severe depending on the stage of keratoconus.

The cause of keratoconus is not fully understood, although there are indications that it may be a genetic condition and studies are currently underway to look at this association. In fact, I’m an investigator for one such study – ‘Investigation of the Genetic Aetiology of Inherited Corneal Diseases’.

Continuous or vigorous eye rubbing in susceptible individuals may lead to the development of keratoconus. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that eye rubbing be avoided. Read more about the dangers of rubbing your eyes.

Previous studies suggest that approximately 1 in every 2000 people has keratoconus, although recent work indicates the incidence is higher, perhaps as much as 1 in 50. Both sexes are affected equally. Most cases are diagnosed in younger people, between 15 to 30 years of age and both eyes are typically affected, although it is usually asymmetrical. There is a link between some other medical conditions (e.g.glaucoma, hay fever and sleep apnoea) and keratoconus.

An ophthalmologist uses a slit lamp and/or corneal topography to diagnose keratoconus.


  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seeing ‘halos’ or ‘ghosting’
  • Distorted, blurry vision
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Double vision in one eye or noticeably worse vision in one eye
  • Eye strain, eye pain
  • Headaches.


  • Glasses or contact lenses to correct refractive error
  • Rigid contact lenses and hybrid contact lenses are particularly effective for keratoconus
  • Corneal rings to reshape the cornea
  • Collagen cross-linking to stabilise/strengthen the cornea – this is the only proven method to halt progression of the disease
  • Corneal transplant if all other treatment avenues have been exhausted.

For more information about keratoconus, click here.

Vision Eye Institute has a number of ophthalmologists who specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of keratoconus and other corneal conditions. You can find a list of our keratoconus clinics here.

Dr Abi Tenen is a refractive, corneal and cataract surgeon with experience in PRK, LASIK, RLE, cross-linking, intracorneal rings and ICLs. By working closely with a broad range of refractive-based procedures, Dr Tenen is able to offer a customised care plan for each patient. She practises at our Blackburn South and Melbourne (St Kilda Rd) clinics.

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