Keratoconus literally means conical or cone-shaped cornea. If you have the condition, you will see how apt a name this is, as look closely in a mirror and you will see how your eye seems to bulge out in the middle. How large a bulge depends on how advanced the condition is. This bulge is the cornea only, so you do not have to worry that your entire eye is making a bid to explode.
The cornea is the transparent front part of the eye and, together with the lens, it focuses light and is responsible for a large part of the process that helps us see. Hence, a condition that mutates it has a large impact on a person’s vision. So, though Keratoconus does not end in blindness, it can and sometimes does severely damage sight.
Keratoconus is a degenerative disease of unknown cause (though genetic factors have been suggested, as well as an array of other options, none of which have been proved unequivocally). It tends to begin in a person’s teenage years (though by no means always) and will degenerate over time. How much the bulge steepens depends on the individual case, and there is no set rate of degeneration.
As the bulge gets bigger and the sides of the cornea get steeper, the cornea can stretch and, therefore, scar and get thinner. This can cause short-sightedness. It is normal for one eye to start and progress quicker than the other.
The condition is easily treatable with a vast array of contact lenses and in the majority of cases these lenses will correct the problem for an entire lifetime. However, in some cases the condition may progress to a level where surgery becomes an option. A corneal graft is the current surgical option of choice.
The thing to remember is that, in most cases, Keratoconus is an irritating condition, but not one that should impact upon your life as it is easily corrected.
I have very advanced Keratoconus in both eyes, which looks like this: