Keratoconus Treatments: Corneal-Crosslinking Explained

Young woman with KeratoconusKeratoconus is a disease that affects 1 in 2,000 Americans. The specific cause is currently uncertain. What is known is that it specifically targets the cornea, making it thin and bulging. This can distort vision greatly, leading to nearsightedness, astigmatism, and sometimes, light sensitivity. There are several treatments for keratoconus including custom contact lenses, corneal ring implants (Intacs), corneal transplant, and keratoplasty, but one of the most effective treatments is called corneal

What is Corneal Cross-Linking?

Corneal cross-linking (commonly referred to as CXL) is a procedure that aims to fortify the corneal tissue in an effort to stop the swelling of the cornea. It is a common keratoconus treatment, but it can be used to treat a wide variety of corneal diseases as well.

How Does it Work?

A Boston corneal surgeon applies a liquid form of riboflavin (vitamin B2) to the affected eye, which sensitizes the corneal tissue. Afterward, controlled ultraviolet light is used to activate the liquid. There are two different ways this procedure can be approached.
The first type involves the removal of the epithelium (the thin outer layer) of the cornea. This “epithelium-off” CXL method allows vitamin B to penetrate the corneal tissue faster.

Epithelium-on” CXL is just the opposite, the trade-off is a less invasive procedure with a smaller risk of infection but a longer wait time for the treatment to take effect.

Is Corneal Cross-Linking Right for Me?

The only way to be sure is to talk to your Boston corneal specialist. Early detection and prevention are key to most medical treatments, and CXL is no exception. The procedure does not reverse the damage done by keratoconus but is very effective at halting its progression. Keratoconus shares many symptoms with other eye complications, such as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription
  • Sensitivity to light, halos, or ghosting
  • Eye pain
  • Headaches

If you experience these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean you have keratoconus. A trained corneal specialist will be able to inspect your cornea at a microscopic level to determine whether or not you require advanced treatment. Specifically, they will check for corneal thinning, scarring at the tip of the bulge, lines created by stress from the bulging, as well as measuring the curvature of the cornea. If you are diagnosed, our experts here at New England Eye Center will determine the best course of keratoconus treatment for you!

Our corneal specialists here at New England Eye Center are here to help. With years of experience and training, they are some of the best corneal surgeons in New England. If you are experiencing the symptoms of keratoconus and would like to be examined, contact our Boston, MA location and book an appointment today!

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