Keratoconus and Eye Rubbing – Which came First?

Scott Clark on Motorcycle
Scott out making his eyes itch, among other things.

The idea that Keratoconus is caused by eye rubbing has been around a while.  I’ve talked with 5-6 corneal surgeons and they’ve had differing opinions on it.   There was consensus that one should be more safe than sorry and advise kids to avoid hard eye rubbing – and to treat the underlying condition.   My daughter’s itchy eyes are treated with Patenol, and I advise my kids to avoid doing it.  I asked them to report it to me when they have itchy eyes and I guaranteed to help them get rid of the symptom.  When I was a kid, I rode motorcycles a lot.  In the dust, dirt, mud, fields of corn, fields of grain, fields of dreams.  But I don’t recall rubbing my eye that much.. but why would I?

“For example, a case control study of 120 subjects with KC involved assessment of potential risk factors, including atopy, family history, eye rubbing, and contact lens wear. In the univariate analysis, there were associations between KC and atopy, family history, and eye rubbing. However, in the multivariate analysis, only eye rubbing was still a significant predictor of KC.” – Charles W. McMonnies, M.Sc., University of New South Wales, Kensington, Australia  (see more)

Here are some other articles/citations on the issue:

This quote from one physicians’ advice puts it in plain English:

Keratoconus has been associated with eye rubbing and eye allergies. Don’t rub your eyes!!! It is believed that eye rubbing can help to distort and thin the corneal surface. To help you with not rubbing your eyes you can use eye drops that lessen the symptoms of eye allergies. Some of these are available over the counter and some need to be prescribed. A good over the counter anti-histamine eye drop is “Zaditor”. Cool compresses help. There is also some evidence that using cooled tea bags and even cucumber slices help to calm the symptoms of eye itching.  – Dr. Jon Vogel

I may extend the list of links above if I find anymore.

Tomorrow:  My pre-surgery physical.

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2 Replies to “Keratoconus and Eye Rubbing – Which came First?”

  1. I used to itch my eyes all the time:
    1) My family had a cat and I’m allergic to furry animals.
    2) I liked itching them because when you rub them enough you start to see colours and patterns kind of like a kaleidoscope affect.
    It was really stupid but when you’re a little kid you don’t think about stuff like that, I’d never even heard of the disease before I was diagnosed.
    I never thought about “eye rubbing” being a factor until I read up about Keratoconus after I was diagnosed. Then it hit me that I always used to do that + I have allergies and Asthma.

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