Chronic ocular diseases tend to have severe ripple effects that can compromise patients’ comfort, mobility and independence. This blow to an individual’s quality of life can be even more damaging when that patient is young—in the second or third decade of life—as is often the case with keratoconus patients, according to a new report. A diagnosis at these ages can set someone up for severe challenges just as they’re entering their primary income-earning years, the Cornea report says.

The research team behind the report set out to assess vision-related quality of life using the Impact of Vision Impairment questionnaire in patients with keratoconus. They concluded that best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) in the better eye had the strongest correlation with reading and mobility scores, whereas BCVA in the worse eye was significantly correlated with emotional scores.

The investigators looked at 107 patients; 37 with mild keratoconus, 41 with moderate disease and 29 severe cases. The study found a decline in reading, mobility and even emotional well being in all three groups; and the scores of the moderate and severe groups were approximately identical. The report also noted that previous studies show more depression among individuals with keratoconus compared with healthy controls.

The team suggests their findings show that rehabilitation strategies are necessary to improve these quality-of-life scores.

Tan J, Nguyen V, Fenwick E, et al. Vision-related quality of life in keratoconus: a save sight keratoconus registry study. Cornea. February 5, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].