Keratoconus (KC), covered in depth in our earlier blog post, is an uncommon degenerative eye condition characterised by the progressive thinning of the normally round and dome-shaped cornea. The thinning results in the formation of a cone-like bulge, typically at the centre of the cornea. If left untreated, Keratoconus can lead to significant visual impairment and potential legal blindness. The condition typically starts in adolescence or early adulthood. While the precise cause of keratoconus remains unknown, experts believe it arises from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Various sources suggest an association between long-term eye rubbing and the development of Keratoconus, as it may change the shape of the front of the eye.
World Keratoconus Day serves as an initiative aimed at increasing awareness, providing education, and offering support to individuals living with keratoconus and their families. It instills hope for those grappling with the challenges posed by this debilitating condition. Many affected individuals, often young, find their lives significantly impacted by severe visual impairment or blindness. Unfortunately, the solution to their condition is underfunded in the public healthcare system in South Africa. This invisible disability takes a tragic toll on various aspects of life, affecting education, employment, and mental health.
The Eyes2Eyes Foundation launched a custom design Scleral Lens Programme at the Groote Schuur Cornea Clinic in June 2021. 90 young patients diagnosed with advanced keratoconus joined our programme in 16 months. A total of 102 scleral lenses have been funded for disadvantaged patients with advanced keratoconus. Scleral lenses are precision custom lenses that smoothen the optical surface to reduce the irregularities of the corneal surface. Eyes2Eyes has established a strong team of skilled professionals in South Africa and New Zealand, dedicated to world class care for patients in the Western Cape.
How can I help – right now?
- Donation to Eyes2Eyes to continue supporting the Scleral Lens Programme. Photos of the clients that we have supported can be found on our social media channels, especially our Eyes2Eyes Instagram Page
- Peruse the World KC Day Toolkit from the National Keratoconus Foundation (United States) and raise awareness of the condition through social media channels
- If you are living and affected with Keratoconus, enter the “Keratoconus & Me” photo competition run by the National Keratoconus Foundation (United States)
More information on Keratoconus can be found at the following link: https://nkcf.org/understanding-kc/