Keratoconus is a disease affecting the cornea where the cornea bows forward abnormally, causing blurred vision. It is a fairly common condition, affecting about 1 in 400 people. It tends to run in families, and there is a strong correlation with eye rubbing and ocular allergies. Children can sometimes be affected, and their vision can deteriorate very rapidly. It is particularly critical to treat children with keratoconus promptly once the diagnosis is made. You can learn more about keratoconus through the National Keratoconus Foundation’s excellent website https://www.nkcf.org/. In the past, the only treatments for keratoconus were hard contact lenses or a corneal transplant.
At Dell Laser Consultants, we have performed several FDA clinical trials for treating keratoconus (and a related condition called corneal ectasia) using a technique known as corneal collagen cross-linking. Corneal collagen cross-linking uses ultraviolet light and the vitamin riboflavin to strengthen the cornea and hopefully stop the progression of the disease. Dr. Dell was first surgeon in Austin to offer this technology and served the chairman of the first national meeting on corneal cross-linking in the US. After several years of clinical trials, we were delighted to see Corneal Collagen Cross-linking receive FDA approval in 2016.
If you or anyone you know has been diagnosed with keratoconus or corneal ectasia, we strongly encourage you to contact us for this revolutionary treatment. To help you better understand how Cross-Linking can help treat these common concerns, we have provided answers to a number of frequently asked questions about CXL.
If you have additional questions about Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking, or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced eye doctors, please contact us today.
What is Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking?
First developed in Germany in 1998, Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking is a procedure designed to treat corneal ectatic disorders, including keratoconus. This disease causes the cornea—the front transparent layer of the eye that covers the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber—to become thin and irregularly shaped, which can distort vision. Cross-Linking has since become the gold standard procedure around the world for addressing this concern. While this technology only recently became available to most eye surgeons in the US, at Dell Laser Consultants, we have offered this technology for several years through our FDA clinical trials. We have treated more patients in Central Texas than any other clinic.
How is Cross-Linking performed?
Cross-Linking uses a combination approach to treat corneal thinning. The first step is applying Vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, to the affected eye or eyes. After the eye drops have had time to permeate, the cornea will be exposed to short wave UVA light for approximately 30 minutes or less. Discomfort typically is minimal and most patients report the experience as pain-free. After the treatment, your eyes will be monitored for several months to help ensure the best possible care and results.
How does Cross-Linking work?
The UVA light is designed to activate the riboflavin coating the eye, which can strengthen the cornea and reduce further thinning by creating bonds (cross-links) with existing strands of collagen found in the cornea. As a result, thinning typically stops, halting eyesight deterioration and potentially improving vision over time.
How effective is Cross-Linking?
There have been numerous studies performed on the results of using Cross-Linking to treat corneal ectatic disorders, and evidence suggests that vision loss is halted in 95 percent of patients. Furthermore, between 60 and 70 percent of individuals experience improved vision.
How long does the treatment last?
Cross-Linking is designed to be long-lasting, and evidence suggests the treatment could be permanent. Studies following patients over ten years have found little to no recurrence of corneal thinning after Cross-Linking.