The exact cause of keratoconus, which explains the weakening and changing shape of the corneal structure, remains unknown
The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Eye Institute and Research will conduct a study to measure the prevalence of keratoconus in the UAE to help understand and treat the disease more effectively.
The hospital, in partnership with Mubadala Health, is raising awareness of keratoconus – a progressive and degenerative corneal eye disease that, if left untreated, can lead to blindness. In the UAE, the incidence of keratoconus is higher than in other parts of the world.
Keratoconus is usually discovered in the teens or 20s, but it can also start in childhood. The exact cause is unknown, and no eye disease or trauma can explain the weakening and changing shape of the cornea. This makes the role of preventive screening and timely detection all the more important, thus providing accurate treatment to control the degree of distortion.
Dr. David Gritz, Cornea and Refractive Disorders Specialist at CCAD Eye Institute, said the hospital seeks to promote advanced research to meet the complex medical needs of the community.
“Our aim is to study the prevalence and incidence of the disease in the local population, which will allow us to work with regulatory authorities to develop a comprehensive national screening program and further serve our community.”
Keratoconus occurs when the cornea (the clear outer lens of the eye), which usually has a spherical appearance and dome shape, fails to maintain its round shape and extends outward in the form of a cone. While the exact cause is largely unknown, some research suggests that keratoconus runs in families and occurs more often in people with specific disorders.
What are the symptoms of keratoconus?
Vision gradually worsens in one or both eyes, usually in late adolescence. When looking in only one eye, the person may have double vision even with glasses. Bright lights appear to have a halo around them. A person with keratoconus will notice that his or her vision slowly becomes distorted. Changes can end at any time or last for years. In most people with keratoconus, both eyes are eventually affected.
“With early detection and treatment, permanent vision loss from keratoconus is preventable because of the innovative, cutting-edge technology we have today. Therefore, we encourage people to take preventive measures and opt for screening tests,” added Dr. Gritz .
The hospital encourages individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 to be examined and to consider participating in the study.