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Cornea. 2000 Jul;19(4):567-9.

Keratoconus associated with continual eye rubbing due to punctal agenesis.

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  • 1Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia.



To highlight a possible causal effect of eye rubbing in the etiology of keratoconus.


A 43-year-old man presented to the practice of one of the authors (I.F.G.) with the complaint of gradual onset reading difficulty. History revealed the patient to have experienced constant epiphora in the right eye throughout his life as a result of punctal agenesis, which necessitated frequent wiping of this eye. Vision in the patient's right eye had been reduced for approximately 20 years.


Based on ocular examination, the patient was diagnosed as having unilateral keratoconus in the right eye.


It is thought by some that keratoconus is associated with, or indeed caused by, persistent rubbing of the anterior eye. While a number of studies support a genetic basis for keratoconus in some patients, it is possible that mechanical factors play a role in the development of this condition in other patients. This paper presents a case of unilateral keratoconus, where there is a confirmed history of habitual eye rubbing and wiping of excess tears as a result of punctal agenesis in the ipsilateral eye, thereby suggesting a possible causal relationship of eye rubbing in the etiology of keratoconus.

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