Science and research

Australian Study of Keratoconus (ASK)

The Australian Study of Keratoconus (ASK) is one of CERA’s major corneal research projects, and one of the world’s largest projects on keratoconus.


ASK is one of the world’s largest projects on keratoconus. The main goal of the study is to discover the clinical, genetic and environmental risk factors of the disease. This will help researchers better understand the causes of keratoconus and may pave the way for new treatments.

ASK was started by Dr Srujana Sahebjada, Professor Mark Daniell and Professor Paul Baird at CERA in 2010. To date, over 450 patients have volunteered to be part of the study.

Initial results

Some initial results of the study include:

  • Asthma appeared as significant risk factors for keratoconus.
  • The thickness of the cornea at different locations is important for detecting subclinical keratoconus (disease that shows no clinical signs and symptoms). The cornea thins with increasing disease severity.
  • Certain changes at the back of the eye (the retina) are seen in keratoconus. However, we do not know if these changes occur prior to, or as a result of, keratoconus.
  • Worse vision in the better eye (but not the worst eye) was independently associated with a reduction in vision and quality of life. This suggests that the better eye is a more important factor on the impact of keratoconus from the patient’s perspective.
  • Genetic studies have assessed a number of possible genes and several have been found to play a role in keratoconus.
  • The diagnosis and management of keratoconus represents a significant cost (both direct and indirect) to patients.


This preliminary data has prompted further research. CERA is now conducting artificial intelligence (AI) projects to identify algorithms for early detection of keratoconus.

How to get involved

Volunteers with keratoconus and their family members are invited to participate in ASK.

To take part in this study you will be invited to:

  • complete an online questionnaire
  • undergo an eye examination
  • donate a small blood or saliva sample at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

If you are interested in participating but cannot come to the hospital, the saliva kit can be posted to you in a postage paid envelope.

If you do not wish to undergo genetic testing, you can just complete the online surveys or make your routine clinical scans available from your clinician for research purposes.

The research team is also collecting corneal buttons, which would otherwise be discarded during corneal surgery. Please contact CERA before undergoing the surgery if you wish to donate the tissue. You can donate whether you have keratoconus or not.


For more information or an appointment, please contact:

Dr Srujana Sahebjada

Email: srujana.sahebjada@unimelb.edu.au

Mobile: 0433 251 407

Dr Srujana Sahebjada

Learn more about Dr Srujana Sahebjada, a Senior Research Fellow in CERA’s corneal research team.