Corneal cross-linking is a treatment that is typically recommended for patients suffering with a corneal disorder called keratoconus. This fairly uncommon condition is caused by the curve of the cornea, which is the clear, domed lens covering the front part of the eye, being an irregular shape. Rather than a regular curve, the cornea starts to thin and bulge outwards in a cone-like shape. This happens because the crosshatched fibers that hold the cornea in position start to weaken, making them less successful at holding the shape of the cornea.
Keratoconus can develop at any age, but most often affects individuals between the ages of 10-25 when the eyes undergo a period of intense growth. Some of the symptoms associated with keratoconus include:
Keratoconus can usually be diagnosed using your symptoms and an examination of the cornea.
Corneal cross-linking is a minimally-invasive procedure that works by creating new links between the collagen fibers of the cornea, strengthening and stabilizing it to slow or even halt the progression of the disease. During the treatment, vitamin B eyedrops are applied to the eyes, followed immediately by controlled exposure of the eye to UV light for around 30 minutes. This prompts the production of collagen that creates new bonds for the corneal structure.
A special contact lens is then placed into the eye, which acts as a bandage, protecting the cornea while it heals, and the bonds are formed. Your vision may be cloudy for a day or two while this happens, but it should quickly clear.
Patients of any virtually age can be considered as potential candidates for corneal cross-linking treatment, with the youngest typically being around 8 years of age and the eldest being around 45.
Other requirements to be a good candidate for corneal cross-linking include:
Another thing that your eye doctor will want to consider is the thickness of your cornea. This is because the thinner your cornea is, the less likely you are to be a suitable candidate for the treatment. For this reason, you may only be considered if you have zero to mild thinning.
If you would like more information about keratoconus or to discover if you are a suitable candidate for corneal cross-linking treatment, please contact our knowledgeable eyecare specialists today.