What is Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking?
Corneal Collagen Crosslinking with Riboflavin (CXL) is an established keratoconus treatment, employed by ophthalmologists around the world. It is not yet approved in the Unit-ed States by the FDA, but Drs. Speaker and Abramson have participated in US clinical trials. CXL works by increasing collagen crosslinks, which are the natural “anchors” within the cornea. A deficiency of these anchors in keratoconus corneas is responsible for bulging and steepening of the cornea with loss of vision. Crosslinking is not a cure for keratoconus, but a treatment that stops or slows further deterioration.
The 30-minute corneal cross-linking treatment is performed in the doctor’s office. During the treatment, vitamin B, also known as riboflavin, eye drops are applied to the cornea, which is then activated by ultraviolet light. This amazing in-office procedure has been shown to add back missing crosslinks, restoring the cornea to normal strength. In numerous published studies, such treatments were proven to be safe and effective in patients. The abnormal curvature of the cornea due to keratoconus changes the cornea’s refractive error producing moderate to severe blurriness of vision. As keratoconus advances, rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses may be the only non-surgical way to achieve clear vision. If keratoconus continues to advance, scarring of the central cornea may occur, necessitating a cornea transplant. Collagen crosslinking is the only procedure available that can halt the progression of keratoconus in many patients. It cannot reverse the damage that has already been done to the cornea by keratoconus, so early treatment is recommended.