Scientific research has answered many of our questions about keratoconus, but many more remain. Throughout the world, researchers are working to increase understanding of this disease. Each year, NKCF convenes and supports conferences to encourage scientific collaboration.
More than 150 years ago, Dr. John Nottingham, an English ophthalmologist, published a 270-page essay on the subject of the ‘conical cornea’. While many of the treatments he wrote about are no longer recommended, his descriptions of KC and vision distortions experienced by his patients could have been written by a doctor today.
Understanding the biochemical or biomechanical properties of the cornea will help researchers develop eye drops that could restore cornea thickness. Studying DNA samples will demonstrate how genetics influence disease progression. Equipment that can help diagnose KC before any vision changes are observed has been developed. Contact lenses are under constant redesign and redevelopment. In animal models, stem cells have been used successfully to help damaged corneas regenerate cells. Innovative surgical procedures using lasers and non-surgical treatments using techniques like crosslinking are being refined. Individualization of crosslinking treatments is another area being pursued by researchers.
Early research focused on trial and error disease management. Today, high-tech analysis of patient data, population studies, and corneal examination at a molecular level has led to an explosion of information. Proof of this increased attention to keratoconus is evident: there were more scientific articles published on the subject of keratoconus during 2016 that during the entire decade of the 1980s.
To learn more about keratoconus research as well as living with KC, visit www.nkcf.org.
Visit the National Library of Medicine at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ and use the keyword keratoconus to see the latest literature coming from the medical community.
Visit the website containing information about clinical trials hosted by the National Institutes of Health at https://clinicaltrials.gov/.
Visit the US Department of Health and Human Services on-line database, RePORT, (Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools) https://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfm to learn about government funding for medical research. Using search term ‘keratoconus’ will generate a list of currently funded research projects.