Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL) Treatment for Keratoconus

If you’re one of the many people that suffers from Keratoconus, chances are that you’ve heard something about a new treatment called corneal cross-linking. This procedure might sound complicated, but it is actually a quite safe, painless and effective method of stopping the progression of Keratoconus.To explain the advanced technology involved, we’ve put together this helpful guide to treating Keratoconus with corneal cross-linking. Read on to learn more about how this state-of-the-art treatment can protect your eyes and improve your vision!

How long does it take to recover from corneal cross-linking?

Cross-Linking Recovery, the treated eye is usually painful for three to five days,  levels of discomfort vary from patient to patient. Recovery time is about a week although most patients may find that it may be slightly longer.

How successful is the cross-linking treatment?

Corneal cross-linking is very effective – the success rate is more than 95% for an ‘epi-off’ treatment. In the remaining 5% of patients where there is further progression or change,

How long does cross-linking treatment last?

The cornea is completely rebuilt every 7−8 years. The younger the patient is at the first cross-linking, the higher the likelihood that they will need a second treatment after seven or eight years.

What Happens During Corneal Cross-Linking?

Keratoconus is a relatively rare ocular condition that that causes the cornea to thin and warp, bulging outward. This makes it impossible for the eye to properly focus light into the pupil, resulting in blurry vision, headaches, and light sensitivity. Most recent research has shown that Keratoconus is likely caused by hereditary factors and aggravated by secondary medical conditions, such as allergies or irritation. Some eyes lack the structural fibrils that stabilize the outer part of the eye, which causes the cornea to bulge.

Corneal cross-linking can help to strengthen the cornea with the goal of slowing or eliminating this degeneration, preventing further damage to the eye, and preserving clear vision. There are two basic types of corneal cross-linking:

  • Epithelium-Off: During these procedures, the fragile outer layer of the cornea (known as the epithelium) is carefully removed, allowing liquid riboflavin to effortlessly penetrate the corneal tissue.
  • Epithelium-On: In this process (also called transepithelial corneal cross-linking) the epithelium is retained, which means that it takes longer for the riboflavin to penetrate the cornea.

No matter the specific process, corneal cross-linking aims to more strongly link the weak fibers that bind together the collagen fibers of the cornea. It can also be combined with traditional procedures, such as specialty contact lenses, to help you see better and more comfortably.

What Should I Expect When Treating Keratoconus With Corneal Cross-Linking?

Before you schedule an appointment for treating Keratoconus with corneal cross-linking, your Optometrist will need to conduct a routine eye exam to assess your general health, measure the thickness of your corneas, and determine your eligibility for this cutting-edge treatment. A short assessment known as corneal topography will examine the condition of the surface of your eyes.

Most corneal cross-linking procedures take between one and two hours to complete, although the time varies depending on whether you are receiving the epithelium-off or epithelium-on version of the treatment. During this minimally invasive procedure, your eye doctor will apply liquid riboflavin drops to the surface of the eye. This is immediately followed by a carefully monitored ultraviolet light treatment, which helps to reduce corneal inflammation and thinning.

After the procedure, your Optometrist will prescribe a topical antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops to speed your recovery. They may also ask you to wear a bandage contact lens to protect your eyes. Although you may experience some irritation and itchiness in the next few weeks, your eye should fully heal within one week.

Corneal Cross-Linking Specialist

Now that you understand the role that corneal cross-linking plays in treating Keratoconus, it’s time to schedule your eye exam. Dr. Leonard has earned a reputation as one of the San Fernando Valley’s most experienced and knowledgeable Keratoconus doctors. Our staff can perform a thorough eye exam and evaluate your eligibility for treating Keratoconus with corneal cross-linking. If you want to take advantage of this exciting new treatment, make a Keratoconus appointment online or call us today at 818-891-6711!