Cornea Cross Linking for Keratoconus

One of the more unusual, yet devastating forms of blindness is known as Keratoconus. This disease occurs when the cornea of the eye becomes thinner and eventually bulges out to cause serious vision impairment. For several years, the only recommended treatments were either gas permeable contact lenses or a full corneal transplant. Gas permeable contact lenses are only effective during the early stages of Keratoconus as the bulge in the cornea will eventually keep the lenses from staying on the eye. Plus, the gas permeable type of contacts are often far more expensive than normal, “soft” contact lenses. A full cornea transplant is rarer and can be expensive, such extreme measures are used when there is no other option and when suitable corneas are available.

Fortunately, there is a new, more effective treatment known as cornea cross linking that has helped thousands of people in restoring their vision around the world and in the Los Angeles area as well. Cornea cross linking uses riboflavin or CXL to help anchor the cornea in place and keep it from bulging outwards. Essentially, instead of artificial anchors being used, the natural anchors of the eye itself which are CXL are increased which helps anchor down the cross linking aspects of the cornea. This does not require and for most patients a one-time event, resulting in the prevention of vision loss for over 95% of the patients in which it is performs with upwards of 70% actually reporting improved vision.

This remarkable method was recently developed and is now becoming a very popular treatment to Keratoconus. The details of such a treatment are pretty simple. The patient is starts by adding non-preservative sterile artificial tears to help water up the eyes that are going to be treated. This in essence prepares the eyes for the additional treatment when they arrive at the office. When the treatment starts, eye drops containing Riboflavin are added every few minutes along with drops that help numb the eye and more artificial tears. To help seal in the Riboflavin, ultraviolet light is then applied at 10 to 15 second intervals for up to 30 minutes depending on the patient and the reaction to the additional crosslinking. Although ultraviolet light is invisible to the naked eye, there is still an effect which will feel like burning though no real damage is being done.

After the CXL treatment is over, the patient is then sent home to rest. The burning sensation will subside over a short period of time and additional artificial tears are then added by the patient. In most cases, the cornea cross linking treatment has been highly successful for stopping the gradual progression of the bulging of the cornea and has in many cases caused the vision to improve. While there are no guarantees, many patients have gone from 20/400 due to the Keratoconus to a mere 20/40 which corrective lenses can easily address. Side effects the CXL include a dryness of the eyes which can be treated by artificial tears. Otherwise, few other side effects have been reported. For those in the Los Angeles area who suffer from Keratoconus, the cornea cross linking treatment may be your answer to stabilizing and even improving your vision.

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