New data adds more weight to the theory that keratoconus is driven, in part, by genetics. Researchers recently evaluated the tomographic and refractive characteristics of siblings of pediatric patients with keratoconus or the children of adults with keratoconus and found that the prevalence of keratoconus was high, warranting screening in this high-risk group.

This cross-sectional study evaluated 183 pediatric first-degree relatives of patients with keratoconus and included both eyes of all participants between the ages of six and 18. The participants underwent manifest refraction, slit-lamp exams and Scheimpflug tomography—the latter of which was evaluated by two masked cornea and refractive surgeons.

The researchers found the tomography data showed 17.5% participants had keratoconus, while 19.1% were labeled as having keratoconus by objective analysis. The team found that 11.5% to 15.5% of patients with keratoconus were younger than 11, with steepest anterior curvature and thinnest pachymetry values of 44.8±6.5D and 515.9±39.2μm. The 18.0% between the ages of 12 and 15 with keratoconus had values of 47.34±3.4D and 496.1±37.9μm, while the 25.5% of keratoconus patients between 16 and 18 had 49.7±6.1D and 486.0±66.5μm. They add that 37.5% of keratoconus patients were unilateral as evaluated by tomography alone.

Awwad ST, Yehia M, Mehanna CJ, et al. Tomographic and refractive characteristics of pdiatric first-degree relatives of keratoconus patients. Am J Ophthalmol. June 10, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].