Purpose: The progression of keratoconus to a stage where penetrating keratoplasty (PK) is required for visual rehabilitation has considerable implications for affected patients. To assist with counselling, the authors have attempted to identify which factors measurable early in the course of the disease may indicate the likelihood of subsequent surgery.
Methods: The authors reviewed the records of all patients who attended a single center over a 7-year period for contact lens management of their keratoconus. The influence of clinical variables on the time taken for the worst eye to progress to PK was evaluated by actuarial methods and multivariate analysis.
Results: Included in the study were 2723 patients with a mean follow-up for unoperated eyes from the first visit of 4.5 years (range, 3 months to 28 years). Data were available for multivariate analysis in 2363 patients. At the end of the study period, 757 eyes (21.6% of all patients) had been grafted. The number of eyes progressing to PK was independently related to both the maximum and minimum keratometry, a corneal cylinder of more than 1.9 mm, the Snellen acuity, the racial group (P < 0.0001), and the age at presentation (P = 0.0006). Sex, laterality, systemic atopic disease, maternal or paternal age at birth, joint hypermobility, and a family history of keratoconus were not statistically related to outcome. Progression to PK in one eye increased the risk of progression in the contralateral eye (P < 0.0001) and a linear model of disease progression is proposed.
Conclusions: Several clinical variables can be measured in patients at the presentation of keratoconus that influence the probability of a subsequent PK.