Do you rub your eyes by digging your knuckles into them? Do you rub your eyes all the time? I would strongly advise you do otherwise, and here is why.
The above picture shows a downward gazing eye and you may have noticed that the cornea (the clear dome in front of the eye) is cone shaped. The medical term for this is called, keratoconus. Aside from an abnormally shaped cornea, one can count on poor vision and in more advanced cases, may not even be able to be corrected with glasses or contact lenses!
Keratoconus is uncommon, but it may occur in families with a history of it and in people who constantly rub their eyes.
Eye rubbing may actually be a result of other eye diseases, such as eye allergies and dry eye. If a concomitant ailment is present, one should treat the underlying disease so the eye rubbing can cease.
The reason why keratoconus occurs in some people is because their corneal tissue is relatively weak versus the normal population. So when one rubs their eye, they are essentially putting pressure on this weak area from the inside. The pressure is what causes the cornea to give way and protrude.
Luckily, for the patients that already have this disease, there are treatments for it. First, if one can improve their vision with glasses or contact lenses, that is always the first line of treatment. If one has a more progressive disease, one may opt to undergo a crosslinking procedure, which can strengthen the cornea and mitigate worsening.
If all else fails, one should consider a DALK (a partial cornea transplant) or a PKP (a full corneal transplant). Your candidacy for one of these procedures can be evaluated by your eye care specialist.
Abnormally-shaped corneas have always been out of fashion, and if you can avoid it, please do! Eliminating eye rubbing from your daily routine is the one thing you can do to prevent it. If you’re having trouble getting out of the habit, you may want to see an ophthalmologist to check if there is another eye disease present.