City ophthalmologists are treating an increasing number of children suffering from kerataconus, a degenerative disease of the cornea, which is more common among young adults.
Doctors claim that constant television viewing and computer usage may be one of the factors behind the increase in the cases.
In kerataconus, there is a thinning of the cornea, which gradually hampers vision and is an irreversible condition. Thinning of the cornea occurs as a result of the weakening of the protein fibres (collagen), which hold the cornea in the eye.
In the past 6 months, Dr Vandana Jain, director of Advanced Eye Institute and Hospital, Navi Mumbai, has treated 30 children between nine and 15 years of age for keratoconus. According to her, dryness in the eyes on account of constant television viewing and computer usage also triggers keratoconus.
“It’s alarming that children as young as eight and nine years are being diagnosed with the condition we saw in young adults,” said Dr Jain.
“The sudden rise could also be a result of heavy pollution which leads to allergic conjunctivitis, a condition which triggers the thinning of cornea. Rubbing of eyes is predisposed to keratoconous,” said Dr Hijab Mehta, Infiniti Eye Hospital at Opera House.
Doctors suggest regular eye check-ups for those children who have had repeated episodes of allergy conjunctivitis because of high air pollution levels.
“Last week I saw a 10-yearold boy with very high cylindrical powers. We are waiting for his test results to confirm keratoconus,” said an ophthalmologist from south Mumbai.
Doctors say the incidence of keratoconus is one in 2,000 people, but with younger children being detected of the disease, doctors are worried about a rise.
“At present we can only reduce the progression of the disease. If the patient comes at a very advance stage, the only option left is to conduct a corneal transplant, which is not an advisable treatment in children,” added Dr Jain.