Genetics vs chronic corneal mechanical trauma in the etiology of keratoconus

Yaron S. Rabinowitz, Virgilio Galvis, Alejandro Tello, Daniela Rueda, Juan Daniel García

Research output: Articles / NotesArticle in a non-specialized journalpeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Both genetic and environmental factors have been considered to play a role in the etiology keratoconus. Eye rubbing, and more recently eye compression due to sleeping position, have been identified to be highly related to the condition, and are present in a high percentage of patients. Today, the predominant model is that these factors can provide the “second hit” necessary to generate the condition in a genetically susceptible individual. In addition, the extremely high prevalence in Arab populations, where endogamy could play a role, the high concordance rate in monozygotic twins, and the presence of family history of the condition between 5 and 23% of cases, support a genetic influence. Segregation analysis studies suggest that keratoconus is a complex non-Mendelian disease. Results from linkage analysis, next generation sequencing studies and genome-wide association studies also have suggested that genetic factors are involved in the condition. Recently, it has been proposed that mechanical trauma (i.e. eye rubbing or eye compression at night), is a sine quanon condition for the onset of keratoconus, and quite possibly its only cause. There are various arguments for and against this hypothesis. Indeed, it is possible, as initially suggested around 55 years ago, that the term “keratoconus” include diverse phenotypically similar conditions, which are actually of different etiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108328
JournalExperimental Eye Research
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Cornea
  • Corneal diseases
  • Corneal pachymetry
  • Corneal topography
  • Keratoconus


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