A study reveals that individuals with asthma, sleep apnea, and Down Syndrome are at a higher risk of developing the eye condition keratoconus.

The findings, made through the largest-ever clinical study of the condition called keratoconus, could help more people receive new treatments that can protect their vision.

Keratoconus makes the cornea weak, which leads it to become cone-shaped over time.

The study from University of Michigan in US showed that men, African-Americans and Latinos, and people with asthma, sleep apnea or Down syndrome, have much higher odds of developing keratoconus.

However females, Asian-Americans and people with diabetes appear to have a lower risk, the analysis shows.

“Eye health relates to total body health, and we as ophthalmologists need to be aware of more than just eyeballs when we see patients,” said first author Maria Woodward, assistant professor at the UM Medical School.

The researchers looked at data from health insurance claims – half of them from more than 16,000 people with confirmed keratoconus and half from an equal number of people with similar characteristics but no keratoconus.

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