Has your teenager been rubbing their eyes more than normal?
Eye irritations in teenagers and young adults could be an early sign of Keratoconus, a relatively rare eye condition that affects the cornea, which is the clear, front lens-like portion of the eye. The condition involves the thinning of the central zone of the cornea, which can cause it to bulge forward, resulting in the eye focusing at multiple points. This causes blurred or distorted vision, mild short-sightedness, sensitivity to light, and a frequently changing glasses prescription. Although the condition can affect people of all ages, it typically presents itself in late teens or early adulthood.
For teenagers, keratoconus can be particularly challenging, as it can affect their academic and social life during a crucial phase of their development. The condition can cause difficulties in reading, writing, and driving, which can lead to decreased self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, it can lead to an increased dependence on glasses and contact lenses, which can be inconvenient and expensive.
Keratoconus usually affects both eyes, although it can progress more rapidly in one eye than the other. In some cases, the condition can progress rapidly, while in others, it may progress slowly over many years.
The three primary symptoms to look out for are:
- A need for frequent updates in glasses prescriptions
- Increased sensitivity to bright light and glare
- Frequent, vigorous eye rubbing
What causes Keratoconus?
The exact cause of keratoconus is unknown, although there is evidence to suggest that genetics may play a role. Other risk factors for the condition include eye rubbing, chronic eye irritation, and certain medical conditions. The condition can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages, as it can be easily mistaken for other eye conditions, such as astigmatism or myopia.
Keratoconus is sometimes associated with atopic conditions such as hay fever, eczema, and asthma, and genetic diseases, and affects people world-wide. The prevalence is different among different ethnic groups. For example, it is more prevalent among the Māori population within New Zealand, compared to the general population.
Learn more about Keratoconus here.
How do you treat Keratoconus?
Because keratoconus is genetic, it cannot be cured, however there are several accessible treatment options available that can allow a person to live a relatively normal life with the condition. If you suspect that your child or teenager may have Keratoconus, it is important to see an optometrist as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of the condition, and ultimately avoid vision loss or surgery.
To schedule an appointment with your local optometrist, use our easy search tool here.