Corneal cross-linking is a procedure used to treat keratoconus, a corneal disease characterized by a weak and thin cornea that, over time, has caused your eye to bulge into a cone-like shape, making your vision distorted.
In this minimally invasive procedure, your provider applies liquid riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, to the surface of your eye. They then apply a controlled amount of ultraviolet light. Together, the UV light and riboflavin work to make the tissues in your cornea stronger by creating special bonds between the collagen fibers. This helps stabilize your cornea. There are two types of corneal cross-linking procedures:
Your provider removes the thin outer layer of your cornea, known as the epithelium so that the liquid riboflavin is able to easily access your corneal tissue.
Your provider does not remove your epithelium. This procedure takes a little longer since the liquid riboflavin will need more time to penetrate your corneal tissue.
Corneal cross-linking is a successful method for treating a variety of other corneal infections, as well as corneal ulcers that have not responded well to topical antibiotics.
After a thorough eye exam, including measuring the thickness of your cornea and mapping its surface, your doctor will determine if you’re a good candidate for corneal cross-linking. They will also assess the severity of your condition.
A typical procedure lasts anywhere from 60-90 minutes. Both types of corneal cross-linking are performed while you’re seated in a reclining position. Before beginning the liquid riboflavin treatment, your provider will remove your epithelium — for epithelium-off patients. Liquid riboflavin drops are placed in your eye. Once your provider feels that enough liquid riboflavin is in your corneal tissue, it’s time to begin the UV light treatment. UV light is applied for up to 30 minutes, during which time your provider checks the thickness of your cornea.
Once your procedure is over, you may be given a bandage contact lens in addition to anti-inflammatory drops and a topical antibiotic. You may experience some initial eye irritation, but you should be fully recovered within a few weeks. Over time, your vision will slowly improve. The shape of your cornea will continue to change for the first six months post-treatment.
The primary benefit of corneal cross-linking is that it prevents your keratoconus from getting worse. This means an improvement in vision and overall quality of life. It can also help prevent you from having to have a future corneal transplant, which is major surgery. If performed early, the procedure can stabilize and improve the shape of your cornea and help your ability to wear contact lenses.
To learn more about corneal cross-linking, schedule an appointment with Eye Physicians Of Austin. You can book online or by phone.
At Eye Physicians of Austin, we accept most major insurance plans. Here is a list of some of the plans we accept. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed.
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