Keratoconus is a rare condition whereby the usually round, dome-shaped cornea becomes thin and starts to develop a cone-shaped bulge. A cornea shaped like a cone causes blurry vision and may also cause an increased sensitivity to harsh glare and light. It generally occurs in both eyes and typically in individuals aged 10-25 years, progressing slowly over time. Problems with vision can be properly corrected with either Glasses or Contact Lenses early on. As the condition progresses, it may be necessary to be fitted with special kinds of Contact Lenses including rigid gas permeable lenses. More advanced stages of the disorder may call for a Cornea Transplant in some individuals.


The exact cause is not known. The condition may be linked to any of the following:

  • Several years of consistently wearing contact lenses
  • Vigorous eye rubbing
  • A combination of several disorders, including hereditary factors, such as Down Syndrome or enzyme abnormalities
  • Other significant eye disorders, such as Vernal Keratoconjunctivitis, Retinopathy of Prematurity, or Retinitis Pigmentosa


Symptoms may change as the condition progresses, some of which may include:

  • Greater sensitivity to harsh glare and bright light
  • Night vision problems
  • Distorted or blurred vision
  • Abrupt clouding or worsening of vision, subsequently caused by a key condition where the back of the cornea ruptures and then fills up with fluid
  • Several changes in prescriptions for glasses

Risk Factors

The following factors can increase your overall chances of developing the condition:

  • Family History: If there’s a known family history of the condition, your chances are higher of developing the disorder.
  • Some Diseases: You may have a much higher risk of developing keratoconus if you have certain genetic disorders or inherited diseases, including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis.


Milder cases of Keratoconus can be effectively treated with either Glasses or Contact Lenses. For most individuals, after a few years the cornea will naturally become stable. In fact, they won’t have serious vision problems or need any more treatment. For some people with the condition, however, wearing Contact Lenses starts to become more difficult or their cornea eventually becomes scarred. In such cases, surgery may be inevitable.

Contact Lenses: For the majority of people with this condition, Contact Lenses are by far the most successful means of treating it.

  • Soft contact lenses or eyeglasses
  • Piggyback lenses
  • Scleral contact lenses
  • Hybrid lenses
  • Rigid gas permeable contact lenses

If you’re someone using Scleral or Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses, be sure to have them properly fitted by Dr. O’Day at Charleston Cornea & Refractive Surgery. It’s also important to note that you will need frequent refittings and regular checkups since a hard contact lens that doesn’t fit properly can literally damage the cornea.

Surgery: It may be necessary to have surgery if you have any of the following:

  • Corneal scarring
  • Poor vision despite wearing very strong prescription lenses
  • Extreme thinning of the cornea
  • Unable to wear any kind of contact lenses

Surgical options include:

  • Cornea transplant, or Keratoplasty
  • Corneal inserts, or intracorneal ring segments

Visit Dr. David O’Day, M.D. to determine if you have Astigmatism (abnormal curvature of the eye) or if your eyesight is rapidly deteriorating. He will also look for evidence of Keratoconus while examining your eyes.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed here and suspect you may have Keratoconus, contact our expert eye care team at Charleston Cornea & Refractive Surgery at one of three locations. The centers are conveniently located in Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, and Myrtle Beach SC. Call us at (843) 856-5275 for more information.