Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking
Another treatment option for keratoconus is corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL). Corneal collagen cross-linking is a new treatment that uses a special UV light and eye drops to promote “cross-linking” or strengthening of the natural “anchors” within the cornea. These anchors are responsible for preventing the cornea from bulging out and becoming irregular. It is the most advanced non-surgical treatment available that is proven to prevent the progression of keratoconus, and it may even be able to reverse the condition to some extent.
The 30-minute treatment is performed in the doctor’s office. During the treatment, custom-made riboflavin eye drops are applied to the cornea, which is then activated by ultraviolet light. This amazingly simple process has been shown in laboratory and clinical studies to increase the amount of collagen cross-linking in the cornea and strengthen the cornea. In published European studies, such treatments were proven safe and effective in patients.
Corneal collagen cross-linking treatments can be combined with Intacs to flatten the keratoconus cone even more than with Intacs alone. In these cases, corneal cross-linking treatments stabilize keratoconus from getting worse as well as help the Intacs reverse the keratoconus steepening that had already occurred.
Am I a Candidate for Corneal Cross-linking?
Corneal cross-linking can be less effective if the cornea has become too misshapen or if you have experienced significant vision loss from keratoconus. However, if performed at the right time, CXL can slow the rate of growth or even reduce the amount of distortion in the cornea, resulting in better visual acuity and an improved ability to wear contact lenses.
In addition to keratoconus treatment, CXL can also potentially be employed in the treatment of other ocular conditions such as corneal ulcers that are unresponsive to other forms of treatment. Similarly, corneal cross-linking can be effective for treating various corneal infections as well.
If you are considering other vision correction procedures such as LASIK, your surgeon might also suggest that you be pre-treated with corneal cross-linking before undergoing the followup procedure; this can strengthen the cornea’s surface and increase the chances of an optimal outcome.