To investigate the current patterns of diagnosis and referral in keratoconus.
A retrospective chart review was performed of patients who had recently been diagnosed with keratoconus and attended dedicated clinics at Antwerp University Hospital, Belgium and Maria Middelares General Hospital, Ghent, Belgium between June 2013 and February 2018. Exclusion criteria included longstanding keratoconus diagnosis, reduced cognitive capabilities and prior surgical procedures (corneal crosslinking, penetrating keratoplasty or any type of refractive surgery).
Three-hundred and ninety-nine patients (722 eyes) were included in this study. The mean age was 24.7±6.5 years and the average maximal keratometry was 51±5.2 D for the better eye and 58.4±9.6 D for the worse eye. Upon diagnosis, 233 eyes (32.2 %) and 51 eyes (7.1 %) had a thinnest pachymetry<450 and<400 μm, respectively. At 6-month follow-up, 58 % of patients had been fitted with specialty contact lenses. During follow-up, 199 eyes (27.6 %) underwent corneal crosslinking. One patient underwent corneal graft surgery of his worse eye due to contact lens intolerance and insufficient visual acuity.
Despite advances in diagnostic tools, keratoconus is often diagnosed at a relatively late stage. Earlier detection of keratoconus would increase the overall clinical benefit of corneal crosslinking. Further research into screening strategies is required to develop cost-effective screening programs.