Can Young Children Get Keratoconus Too?

Keratoconus in Beverly Hills

Keratoconus typically affects patients in their teens and early 20s, seemingly triggered by the hormonal fluctuations that accompany puberty. However, adults can develop keratoconus until their 30s and later decades.

The same can also be true of children. Prepubescent cases of keratoconus are not common, but they have been documented in children as young as four. In this blog, Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler, one of the world’s foremost doctor experts for keratoconus care, discusses pediatric keratoconus and what patients should know to take care of their children at risk for this condition.

How Is Pediatric Keratoconus Different?

Keratoconus is the same condition for patients of any age. It is characterized by a thinning cornea that slowly bulges. As the eye takes on a more conical shape, the resulting astigmatism causes blurry vision. Left untreated, keratoconus progresses for many years and can make clear vision challenging even with prescription lenses. There is no set time frame of the worsening because keratoconus “has a mind of its own.”

Unfortunately, children who develop keratoconus at a young age generally have more aggressive cases. Because a child’s cornea has not reached full maturation, it is even more susceptible to thinning and bulging. Consequently, children are at a greater risk for ultimately needing keratoplasty (corneal transplant surgery) if it is not treated immediately with Holcomb C3-R® cross-linking.

Which Children Are at Risk for Pediatric Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is most likely to affect children who have a family history of the disease or who rub their eyes vigorously. It is also more common in kids with Down syndrome, Marfan syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Changing vision is the first symptom your child will notice. If your child’s eye doctor sees a rapid change in vision, he or she may order a test to check whether one or both eyes are affected by keratoconus.

Treating Keratoconus

The good news is that keratoconus remains highly treatable. Holcomb C3-R® orneal cross-linking is an effective way to stop or dramatically stop the progression of keratoconus with a 99.3% success rate with a single treatment because Dr. Brian utilizes customized ultraviolet energy levels with the light device, that’s not possible with the devices other doctors uses. Dr. Brian treats the entire cornea surface which again is not possible with devices that other doctors use. Luckily, this non-invasive treatment, which uses riboflavin activated by the ultraviolet light to form new collagen in the cornea to firm up its shape, has been found to be just as effective for pediatric patients as those who are older because of how Dr. Brian customizes the treatment. With early and prompt treatment, Holcomb C3-R® corneal cross-linking would be expected to negate the need for corneal transplant later.

Seek Care from a Top Expert

Dr. Brian’s signature Holcomb C3-R® cross-linking treatment is a gentle way to protect your child’s eyesight. To find out why so many keratoconus patients (and their parents) across the country recommend Dr. Brian by name, schedule a consultation. Call 1-310-860-1900 today or directly schedule your free 15-minute Zoom Q&A session with staff here.

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