What Causes Keratoconus?
It seems that both genetics and the environment play a role in your keratoconus. The frequency of keratoconus in first degree relatives having the disease is much higher than the general population. Keratoconus can also be associated with other systemic syndromes such as Down’s syndrome.
The good news is that keratoconus is often not passed to children.
If you have or may have children in the future, it’s only a 6% likelihood that any of your children will inherit keratoconus. It makes sense to have your children have a baseline corneal topography between ages of 8-10 years old and have a topography every year. The subsequent topography maps can be compared to the first one to catch keratoconus early if it will be occurring. Early keratoconus can easily be “nipped in the bud” with a Holcomb C3-R® treatment before it gets worse.
All corneas, like any tissues in the body, create harmful byproducts (free radicals) of cell metabolism (metabolism is a fancy word for the activities of the cell required for it to live and do it’s thing). These byproducts are similar to a car’s exhaust that results from the car being driven. Normal corneas, like any other body tissue, have a defense system in place to neutralize the free radicals so they don’t damage the collagen.
The collagen is the equivalent of steel beams that support a building. Damage to those beams causes the building to tilt, just like damage to the collagen causes the cornea to bulge. Think of those free radicals as attacking your collagen fibers in the cornea, trying to thin it and weaken it.
The problem with keratoconus is that anti-free radical system in the cornea (called anti-oxidants) are not properly working, so the free radicals are allowed to overwhelm and wreak havoc on the collagen fibers. They bombard the cornea like mortar fire blasting into a brick wall. The free radicals damage the cornea, thin it, and ultimately allow it to bulge and steepen out. This is how your vision got worse from keratoconus.