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A Step-By-Step Guide to Corneal Cross-Linking

Posted on December 6, 2022

Did you know that those who suffer from keratoconus often experience blurred vision, halos of light, and might become more sensitive to light?

Even though it is common for people to experience vision problems from time to time, most believe that their vision will remain healthy until they grow older. This is when conditions such as cataracts tend to develop.

Therefore, it can be disturbing to be diagnosed with keratoconus when you are still young. But it is possible to treat this condition.

In fact, the FDA recently offered approval for a successful treatment known as corneal cross-linking. To help you understand what this procedure is, we have created a costcorneal cross-linking guide. Keep reading to find out more.

What Is Keratoconus?

If you are diagnosed with keratoconus, don’t panic. Once you understand what this condition is, it will be easier for you to figure out the best treatment option.

Keratoconus affects the cornea. The cornea is a transparent tissue that is shaped like a dome.

It is located in the front of your eye. Its job is to focus light into your eye.

Most people have round corneas. But those who have keratoconus have corneas that slowly become thinner. This will make them bulge into the shape of a cone.

Once this happens, it will not be possible for light to properly focus into the eye.

This is why people who suffer from keratoconus often have blurred vision. It is also common for people to be sensitive to light and to have night blindness.

Unfortunately, doctors are not sure what causes keratoconus. They also do not know how to prevent it from developing. What they do know is that it has a genetic link.

It also tends to be more common in those who have Down syndrome. But scientists do not know why this is the case.

How Keratoconus Develops

Most people who have keratoconus will develop it when they are still young adults. It will slowly get worse over the following years. It often stops developing once people reach forty years old.

It will not typically cause blindness. But it might be difficult for you to perform regular tasks because your vision will probably be blurry.

Thankfully, it is easy to treat keratoconus with corneal collagen cross-linking.

What Is Corneal Cross-Linking?

A corneal cross-linking procedure can help to strengthen the cornea. This will stop it from bulging and becoming thinner. Corneal crosslinking is often called CXL.

How Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking Works

The process of “crosslinking” involves forming new connections between molecules. Corneal crosslinking is a procedure that will strengthen your cornea’s molecular structure.

This will offer you protection from keratoconus. The corneal cross-linking procedure has been in existence for more than twenty years.

The first procedure was completed in Germany in 1998. But the FDA did not offer approval for the procedure until 2016.

Corneal cross-linking is an effective medical procedure because it creates an interaction between riboflavin (vitamin B2) and UVA light.

If your eye has a sufficient amount of topical B2 and a controlled amount of UVA light is applied, new bonds will begin to form between your cornea and collagen fibers. This will help to strengthen your cornea.

There are various similarities between LASIK procedures and corneal cross-linking procedures. But it is important to understand that both of these procedures are designed to treat very different conditions.

Understanding the Different Types of Corneal Cross-Linking

There are two main approaches to corneal cross-linking: extracting a part of epithelial tissue (also known as Epi-Off), and leaving this tissue intact (also known as Epi-On).

Epi-On is a simpler procedure and it is less intensive. But it is important to understand that Epi-Off tends to produce better results.

If you are not sure which method is best for your needs, make sure to talk with your doctor.

What the Corneal Cross-linking Procedure Involves

Regardless of whether or not your doctor will first clear epithelial tissue, they will always add riboflavin drops to the eye.

This substance will need to saturate the corneal tissue. It will take around thirty minutes for this to happen. Riboflavin helps to protect important eye tissues from the potentially harmful effects of UVA light.

After your doctor has made sure that there is a sufficient amount of riboflavin in your corneas, she or he will apply UVA light to your eyes. This will take about half an hour.

Your doctor will then rinse away the rest of the riboflavin before adding a topical antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication. Your doctor will then apply a bandage.

You will need to continue wearing this bandage for several days.

Corneal Cross-Linking Recovery

While patients typically recover from LASIK surgery in a matter of days, it might take a month or two before you fully recover from a corneal cross-linking procedure.

Your eyes will need time to heal. Chances are that your vision will have fully recovered after three months.

But it is important to understand that the goal of a corneal cross-linking procedure is to prevent keratoconus from progressing. This procedure cannot reverse the effects of keratoconus.

Thankfully, the CXL procedure has a high rate of success.

Corneal Cross-Linking: Understand What’s Involved

If you suffer from keratoconus, you should ask your doctor about the possibility of performing a corneal cross-linking procedure. This is an effective way for preventing keratoconus from progressing.

Are you looking for the right doctor to perform a corneal cross-linking procedure? If so, keep in mind that Eye LASIK Austin can help you. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions that you might have.

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