The Benefits of Corneal Cross-Linking for Treating Keratoconus

Your cornea is a clear, dome-shaped window at the front of your eye that focuses the light entering your eye. When you have keratoconus, however, your cornea becomes thin and protrudes out in an irregular cone shape. As a result, your vision becomes blurry and distorted, making it difficult to perform daily activities like reading or driving.

At Atlanta Vision Cataract & Laser Center, we offer corneal cross-linking, an FDA-approved procedure that offers many benefits for our patients with keratoconus. The condition is progressive and often gradually worsens over time, but cross-linking is helps halt the progression.

If you have keratoconus, here’s what you should know about the benefits of corneal cross-linking.

Understanding keratoconus

The severity of keratoconus ranges widely -- from very mild to severe. It typically occurs in both eyes and affects men and women of all ages and races. Scientists haven’t pinned down an exact cause, but having allergic conditions increases your risk and regularly rubbing your eyes can make it worse.

When the condition is mild, corrective eye glasses can restore your vision. However, keratoconus can progress to the point where corrective lenses no longer help. When that happens, corneal transplants and inserts are the primary treatment options.

Halting keratoconus progression

Cross-linking is the first and only treatment that effectively stabilizes the cornea and stops keratoconus from getting worse. When this is done during the earlier stages of keratoconus, it prevents the need for invasive approaches, such as inserts and corneal transplants. In fact, cross-linking is expected to significantly reduce the number of corneal transplants performed in the United States.

Improving visual acuity

While the technique prevents keratoconus progression, it also offers other benefits. Cross-linking improves uncorrected visual acuity, which influences how sharp you see letters or numbers from a distance. It also improves upon corrected visual acuity, or the best sharpness you can get with corrective lenses. This means after cross-linking, you should be able to see more clearly from a distance, whether you normally wear corrective lenses or not.

Counteracting corneal thinning

Corneal thinning is one of the primary characteristics of keratoconus. If you have this condition the middle of your cornea becomes thin. This can cause images in front of you to look blurred. It can also cause double vision. By adding a chemical bond between the collagen molecules, cross-linking counteracts corneal thinning.

Corneal strengthening

Cross-linking strengthens weakened corneas by producing an immediate ability of collagen fibrils -- the structural protein -- to form strong bonds with adjacent fibrils. This stabilizes your cornea to prevent further degenerative changes that would influence your vision.

What cross-linking involves

Cross-linking is an in-office, outpatient procedure that involves using liquid vitamin B-2 plus ultraviolet light to strengthen the structural protein that supports the cornea. The ophthalmologist uses a special instrument to remove the outer layer of your cornea and places vitamin B-2 drops in your eye. To activate the vitamin B-2, the ophthalmologist uses UV light.

To help support the shape of your cornea while it heals, the ophthalmologist may recommend plastic devices that will be inserted into your corneas. The healing process takes about 5-7 days. During that time, you’ll wear a bandage contact lense.

Keratoconus patients had very few options prior to cross-linking. Now it’s possible to stop keratoconus in its tracks and preserve your vision.

For a consultation and effective keratoconus treatment, make an appointment with our team at Atlanta Vision Cataract & Laser Center by calling our office or booking online.

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