To investigate the epidemiologic, demographic, and basic clinical characteristics of individuals with keratoconus managed by optometrists in New Zealand (NZ)/Aotearoa.
A prospective, longitudinal, nationwide, survey protocol was completed for every patient with keratoconus who underwent a consultation with participating optometrists in a 2-year period. Data for each patient included date of birth, sex, self-reported ethnicity, new or previous diagnosis, uncorrected (UCVA) and best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), type of refractive correction required to obtain BCVA and keratometric readings obtained using keratometry or computerized topography.
One thousand eight hundred sixty-nine cases were identified, with a mean age of 41.0 ± 15.7 years, 56.4% being men, and 87.3% with previous diagnosis. The distribution of cases was skewed toward Auckland (41.6%), Waikato (21.3%), Wellington (16.8%), and Bay of Plenty (13.3%). Self-reported ethnicities were predominantly NZ European (54.4%), Māori (24.7%), and Pacific Peoples (15.5%), disproportionate to the general population profile (74.0%, 14.9%, and 7.4% respectively). Most eyes (64.3%) were managed with rigid contact lenses (corneal lens in 34.2%). The mean K-mean was 49.0 ± 5.7 D. The mean UCVA was 6/42 and BCVA was 6/9. Māori and Pacific Peoples had both the highest K-mean and proportions of eyes graded stage IV on the Amsler–Krumeich scale.
The results indicate that keratoconus is relatively common in NZ with at least 1869 patients managed by optometrists in 2 years. Most eyes had mild to moderate disease; however, Māori and Pacific Peoples seem to have greater disease severity. An ethnic predilection is apparent, with Māori and Pacific Peoples overrepresented relative to their population proportions, reinforcing a long-held clinical suspicion.