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Bulging Cornea

Keratoconus (bulging of the cornea) is a degenerative condition that occurs in about one person in every 1000. The cornea gradually takes on a conical rather than rounded shape. There are several apparent causes. It may be develop due to tears in the Dua layer which allow fluid buildup. The cornea tissue may thin due to the deterioration of the Bowman's Layer -- it is not inflamed but exhibits signs of free radical damage.1

Self Help & Tips

MSM eyedrops and certain nutrients such as N-Acetyl-Cysteine and Vitamin C may help slow down development of keratoconus and support corneal health.


Symptomatic abnormalities include deterioration of cornea cells, collegen fibers and membranes, mitochondria swelling, and protein synthesis abnormalities. These alterations take place both within the cells and in the spaces between cells.4

  • Visual distortion with and without eyeglasses.
  • Standard contact lenses do not fit well.
  • Multiple images (monocular polyopia)
  • Glare from lights
  • Light sensitivity
  • Poor night vision



Researchers have found that the damaged cornea shows signs of oxidation damage to the Bowman's Layer caused by free radicals. The cells create an enzyme called "leukocyte", a common antigen related protein (LAR) that is not found in normal corneas. It is felt that if cornea membrane cells are only partially damaged they can heal, but over time corneal cells can be killed causing vision loss.

With the 2013 discovery of the Dua's layer, it is also thought that a tear in this thin, tough layer may allow fluid to leak, creating pressure on the cornea (acute hydrops).

  • Oxidative damage by free radicals.
  • Allergies Approximately 40-50 percent of keratoconus patients have allergies. Allergies may be a contributing factor, although not confirmed in any studies.
  • Magnesium deficiencies are linked to keratoconus. Researchers have found that alterations to cells and molecules in the eyes of patients with keratoconus are similar to the alterations caused by magnesium deficiency.4 Alcoholism, pregnancy, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, diuretics and stress can lead to a magnesium deficiency. Low magnesium can cause a thinning of elastic membranes such as the cornea.
  • Genetic disposition.
  • Keratoconus is more common in persons with Down's Syndrome2

Conventional Treatment

  • Use of gas permeable contact lenses (one needs to see a specialist who fits contacts for keratoconus.
  • Surgery such as intrastromal corneal ring segments, keratotomy, and cross linking.
  • If severe, corneal transplant which is recommended by eye doctors in 25% of cases.2 With the discovery of the Dua layer, surgeons will be more capable of avoiding damage to the corneal stroma during these interventions.

Self Help Information

Since we consider most eye conditions to be a reflection of the health of the whole body, lifestyle choices and diet can play a major factor in getting and maintaining good vision. Below are some recommendations:

  • Homeopathic eye drops are helpful.
  • Wear 100% UVA and UVB protecting wraparound sunglasses with a brimmed hat when you are outside.
  • Supplementation with nutrients and eyedrops that have been found to be helpful to protect vision.
  • Diet & lifestyle - see our recommendations for healthy eyes for detailed information.

Related Conditions

  • Keratoglobus - also known as megalocornea, occurs when the cornea thins at the edges and changes to a more globular shape due to deteriorating cornea structure.
  • Pellucid marginal degeneration - this is another degenerative condition in which the bottom edge and side margins of the cornea become thinner.
  • Posterior keratoconus - in this condition the back of the cornea deterorates and thins.
  • Acute hydrops - occurs when swelling occurs due to leakage in the Descemet's membrane (see the image above). Sometimes the cornea tears or is scarred.
  • Descemetocele - formation of a descemetocele occurs when the Descemet mebrane bulges due to cornea damage caused by infection or corneal ulcer.
  • Pre-Descemet's dystrophies - here, the stroma layer of the cornea develops opaque areas and lesions can form.

Keratoconus News

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See Vitamins & Supplements to support the cornea

Research, Footnotes and More Information

National Keratoconus Foundation

4. The possible relationship between keratoconus and magnesium deficiency, Thalasselis A., Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics, Jan. 2005, 25(1), pp 7-12.