Keratoconus staging by decades: a baseline ABCD classification of 1000 patients in the Homburg Keratoconus Center

Br J Ophthalmol. 2021 Aug;105(8):1069-1075. doi: 10.1136/bjophthalmol-2020-316789. Epub 2020 Aug 23.


Background: This retrospective cross-sectional study aims to analyse the keratoconus (KC) stage distribution at different ages within the Homburg Keratoconus Center (HKC).

Methods: 1917 corneae (1000 patients) were allocated to decades of age, classified according to Belin's ABCD KC grading system and the stage distribution was analysed.

Results: 73 per cent (n=728) of the patients were males, 27% (n=272) were females. The highest KC prevalence occurred between 21 and 30 years (n=585 corneae, 294 patients). Regarding anterior (A) and posterior (B) curvature, the frequency of A was significantly higher than B in all age groups for stage 0, 1 and 2 (A0>B0; A1>B1; A2>B2; p<0.03, Wilcoxon matched-pairs test). There was no significant difference between the number of A3 and B3, but significantly more corneae were classified as B4 than A4 in all age groups (p<0.02). The most frequent A|B combinations were A4|B4 (n=451), A0|B0 (n=311), A2|B4 (n=242), A2|B2 (n=189) and A1|B2 (n=154). Concerning thinnest pachymetry (C), most corneae in all age groups were classified as C0>C1>C2>C3>C4 (p<0.04, Wilcoxon matched-pairs test). For the best distance visual acuity (D), a significantly higher number of corneae were classified as D1 compared to D0 (p<0.008; D1>D0>D2>D3>D4).

Conclusion: The stage distributions in all age groups were similar. Early KC rather becomes manifest in the posterior than the anterior corneal curvature whereas advanced stages of posterior corneal curvature coincide with early and advanced stages of anterior corneal curvature. Thus, this study emphasises the necessity of posterior corneal surface assessment in KC as enabled by the ABCD grading system.

Trial registration: NCT03923101.

Keywords: Cornea; Diagnostic tests/Investigation; Epidemiology.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Corneal Pachymetry
  • Corneal Topography
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratoconus / classification*
  • Keratoconus / diagnosis
  • Keratoconus / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Visual Acuity
  • Young Adult

Associated data