September 2023

Mental Health Impact of Keratoconus: A Systematic Review

Emily Durakovic, Himal Kandel, Stephanie L Watson


Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of keratoconus on the mental health and emotional well-being of affected patients.

Methods: A literature search was conducted according to the PRISMA guidelines. Databases searched included MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane, and PsycINFO. Articles were included if they were a primary study that investigated mental health or emotional quality-of-life outcomes in patients with keratoconus.

Results: Thirty-one articles met inclusion criteria of a total yield of 444. Most studies reported keratoconus to have a negative effect on mental health or emotional well-being. Worsening mental health scores correlated with lower visual acuity (VA) in the better eye, lower VA in the worse eye, increasing ocular asymmetry, and worsening disease severity. Mental health impacts were often reported to be disproportionate to that of the effects on VA. Over time mental health outcomes improved, suggesting stabilization of disease and patient acceptance.

Conclusions: Patients with keratoconus may suffer detriments to mental health despite having relatively good VA. Understanding and acceptance of their disease may assist in assuaging mental health concerns. Further work may be needed to investigate whether benefit exists in routine mental health screening of patients with keratoconus.