The natural history of corneal topographic progression of keratoconus after age 30 years in non-contact lens wearers

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To determine if significant progression of disease occurs in older, non-contact lens wearing, subjects with keratoconus and to identify potential predictive factors.


Clinical and computerised corneal topography records of subjects with keratoconus attending a specialist optometry practice were retrospectively analysed to identify those aged ≥30 years, with ≥2 consultations ≥12 months apart, no contact lens wear and no corneal scarring, surgery or corneal hydrops. Topographic parameters assessed included: maximum keratometry (Kmax), steep keratometry (Ksteep), flat keratometry (Kflat), inferior-superior (I-S) ratio and the surface asymmetry and regularity (surface asymmetry index and surface regularity index) indices.


Of the 449 subjects with keratoconus assessed, 43 eyes of 27 patients (6.01%) met inclusion criteria, with median age 38.45 (12.86) years at baseline and median follow-up 4.36 (8.68) years. There was a significant increase in Kmax (0.30 (1.21) D), Ksteep (0.27 (0.90) D), Kflat (0.34 (1.12) D) and I-S (0.26 (0.82) D) between baseline and final review, p<0.05. Notably, 18.6%–25.6% of eyes demonstrated ≥1.00 D increase in one or more of four principal topographic parameters (Kmax, Ksteep, Kflat, I-S ratio), while 18.5%–37.0% of subjects had ≥1.00 D increase in the aforementioned parameters in at least one eye over the study period. However, <10% of eyes exhibited ≥1.00 D increase/year in all topographic parameters. The only significant predictor of progression was follow-up time.


This study confirms that keratoconus may continue to progress beyond age 30. Older subjects with keratoconus should be monitored for progression, particularly with respect to possible corneal collagen cross-linking or astigmatic correction in cataract surgery.

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