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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. 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 Syndrome
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