The National Eye Institute reports keratoconus is the most common corneal dystrophy in the United States, affecting about one in 2,000 Americans, but some reports place the figure as high as one in 500. The inconsistency may be due to variations in diagnostic criteria, with some cases of severe astigmatism interpreted as those of keratoconus, and vice versa. A long-term study found a mean incidence rate of 2.0 new cases per 100,000 population per year. Some studies have suggested a higher prevalence amongst females, or that people of South Asian ethnicity are 4.4 times as likely to suffer from keratoconus as Caucasians, and are also more likely to be affected with the condition earlier.
Keratoconus is normally bilateral (affecting both eyes) although the distortion is usually asymmetric and is rarely completely identical in both corneas. Unilateral cases tend to be uncommon, and may in fact be very rare if a very mild condition in the better eye is simply below the limit of clinical detection. It is common for keratoconus to be diagnosed first in one eye and not until later in the other. As the condition then progresses in both eyes, the vision in the earlier-diagnosed eye will often remain poorer than that in its fellow.
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