Corneal Cross-Linking for Keratoconus Now Available
What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a progressive thinning and distortion of the cornea, the transparent dome-like tissue on the front of the eye. It is the most common corneal dystrophy in the U.S., affecting approximately one in every 2,000 Americans or approximately 170,000 people. Keratoconus causes the cornea to bulge from its normal symmetric dome-like shape, creating an abnormal curvature that changes the cornea’s optics, producing blurred and distorted vision that is difficult to correct with glasses. This progressive thinning and weakening can result in scarring of the cornea, significant vision loss, and may lead to a corneal transplant.
Previously, patients diagnosed with keratoconus and other weakened corneal conditions had few options to prevent their condition from deteriorating. In earlier stages, as the cornea began to show signs of weakness, visual changes were corrected with eyeglasses, primarily to treat worsening astigmatism. As the condition progressed, however, patients would no longer be able to enjoy good vision solely with eyeglasses. Rigid contact lenses were necessary for best visual correction. As the cornea would continue to weaken and become cone-shaped and irregular, contact lenses would eventually become difficult to fit and to wear, leaving patients without a good long-term solution. In these patients, a corneal transplant would often be necessary to replace the damaged tissue.
Research in Europe, however, showed that the collagen fibers and strands of tissue within the cornea could be strengthened by first soaking with riboflavin (vitamin B2) and treating the tissue with ultraviolet light. This treatment became known as Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL) and was first used to treat keratoconus patients in 1998 in Dresden, Germany. In April of 2016, the first Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL) system was approved by the FDA. Clinical trials have been conducted in the U.S. for years. Hoopes Vision and its doctors have been involved in these clinical trials since 2012. We are pleased to announce that we are now offering this technology to the many patients awaiting treatment.
CXL Procedure and Purpose
The Cross-Linking procedure begins by first administering drops of riboflavin (vitamin B) to the surface of the cornea. Once the cornea has been saturated with the solution, a small amount of UV-A light activates the riboflavin to strengthen and stabilize the weakened links between the corneal fibers. Because of this “cross-linking” between corneal fibers, the progression of keratoconus and other similar conditions can be slowed or even halted.
Although CXL was approved to help slow or halt Progressive Keratoconus, this technology may benefit patients that have other types of weakened corneal conditions such as Pellucid Marginal Degeneration, Forme Fruste Keratoconus, and Keratoconus.
If you have keratoconus and are interested in seeing if you are a candidate for Corneal Cross-Linking, please call Hoopes Vision at 801.568.0200 to schedule an appointment.