Connections Found to Keratoconus

A recent publication in Ophthalmology detailed the results of a retrospective longitudinal cohort study that matched 16,053 patients with keratoconus to a control group with no history of the disease. The purpose of the study, conducted in conjunction with the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Michigan Medical School, was to determine if an association exists between keratoconus, sociodemographic factors, and common systemic diseases. 

The odds of the people in the study of developing keratoconus were strongly influenced by race. Compared to white people, black people had a 57% greater chance of being diagnosed with keratoconus; the odds for Latinos were 43% higher than those for Caucasians. Conversely, Asians had 39% reduced odds of developing keratoconus than whites did.

Certain health conditions also played a factor in the diagnosis of keratoconus. Individuals with diabetes had 20% lower odds of developing keratoconus; while those with sleep apnea or asthma had higher odds. Most shocking, people in the study with Down syndrome were more than 600% more likely to be diagnosed with keratoconus that those who do not have the genetic disorder.

This is not the first time that we have reported on a possible connection between keratoconus and obstructive sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that, if left untreated, can lead to serious health issues including high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Individuals with keratoconus should be aware of this link and, if they are concerned, speak to their primary care physician about setting up an apnea sleep testing study.