Keratoconus is an eye condition that occurs when the tissues of the cornea break down. The cornea is the clear, round dome of tissue that covers the front of the eye. In keratoconus, the corneal shape changes from round to conical.
This condition is normally characterised by blurred vision. Changes in the cornea may also be observed by your doctor in an eye examination.
The actual cause of keratoconus cannot always be determined. Here are some possible causes of this disease:
• The condition may be due to genetic conditions which affect the structure of the cornea.
• Hormones may be related to this condition as it is often detected during the puberty stage.
• Frequent rubbing of the eyes.
• Use of contact lenses that do not fit properly.
• Oxidative stress can destroy the cells that make up the cornea and result in the development of this condition.
The common treatments for keratoconus include the use of contact lenses. For severe cases, your doctor may also recommend that you undergo surgery to treat this condition.
Some studies show that keratoconus may be addressed by making changes in your diet. Positive results by dietary changes may prevent the worsening of the condition and save you from undergoing the treatments mentioned above. These changes can include the incorporation of antioxidants in your diet.
Antioxidants are substances that protect our body’s cells against the harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are produced when our body breaks down food or by environmental exposure to radiation and tobacco smoke. They can damage our cells and cause heart diseases, cancer and other medical conditions.
Antioxidant substances include the following:
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin E
Including antioxidants in your diet may not necessarily address your keratoconus if it is caused by frequent eye rubbing, genetics or hormones. However, foods that contain antioxidants can help reduce the rate of cell damage brought about by oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is also promoted by ultraviolet light, so protective wrap around sunglasses that provide close to 100% ultraviolet light protection are mandatory.
Antioxidants may be obtained from different foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, meats, fish and poultry. If your doctor thinks that including antioxidants in your diet can help reduce the rate of tissue destruction, he will help you formulate a dietary plan. The following foods rich in antioxidants may be included in your diet:
• Brazil nuts
• Yellow corn
• Sunflower seeds
Note, however, that dietary adjustments alone will not treat your keratoconus. You should still consult your optometrist on the best treatment options for your condition. You should likewise not implement your own dietary plan without consulting your doctor. Otherwise, you might miss out on important nutrients required by your body. You can create an initial plan for your doctor’s evaluation. Your doctor may recommend additional treatments or he may prescribe antioxidant supplements to ensure that you have sufficient amount of antioxidants in your body.
The Eye Practice specializes in keratoconus management. Dr Jim Kokkinakis has co-authored a patient manual on keratoconus, which outlines everything there is to know about keratoconus, as we currently know.