How Does Corneal Cross-Linking Treat Keratoconus?

How Does Corneal Cross-Linking Treat Keratoconus?

How Does Corneal Cross-Linking Treat Keratoconus?

How Does Corneal Cross-Linking Treat Keratoconus?

Corneal cross-linking is a treatment for keratoconus, a condition where the cornea thins out. It also forms a bulge in the shape of a cone at the front of the eye. This distorts vision. If the symptoms get severe, you will need a corneal transplant.


What Is Corneal Cross-Linking?


The procedure gets its name from the process. The doctors use liquid riboflavin and ultraviolet light to bond the tissues in the cornea. The tissues in your eye consist of collagen fibers. The eyedrop medication and UV light add bonds to the collagen fiber. The bonding acts as a support beam to help the cornea stay stable. This procedure has proven to be the only treatment that can slow down keratoconus. In the end, it helps you avoid a corneal transplant.


Types of Corneal Cross-Linking


There are two types of corneal cross-linking. These are epithelium-off and epithelium-on cross-linking.


Epithelium-Off Cross-Linking


The doctor removes the outer layer of the cornea (epithelium). This allows for liquid riboflavin to penetrate the deeper layers of the cornea. Doctors also refer to it as epi-off cross-linking.


Epithelium-On Cross-Linking


In this technique, the outer layer stays intact. The doctor uses special eyedrops to loosen the epithelium. He or she then puts in the liquid riboflavin to penetrate the eye. It is less invasive than the epithelium-off technique.




You can do corneal cross-linking at the doctor’s office. The procedure takes about 60-90 minutes. First, the doctor uses eye drops to numb your eyes. Then he or she puts specially formulated riboflavin (B2) eye drops.


Liquid riboflavin helps your eye absorb light better. The drops take 30 minutes to soak into your eye. You then lie down, looking up at a special machine that delivers UV light to your eyes. There is no pain during the procedure.


A combination of corneal cross-linking and other procedures also helps treat keratoconus. Treatments include the use of Intacs®, which involves the implantation of corneal inserts. This procedure helps reshape and add stability to the corneal tissues in severe cases.


What to Expect After


The doctor will put a special contact lens in your eye. This will help the healing process. Do not rub your eyes for at least five days after the procedure. Even if you feel discomfort, take the medication the doctor provides you with instead. If you have severe pain or worsening of sight, let your doctor know right away.


Your vision may be poor at first. You may also experience sensitivity to light. But remember that this procedure takes time to heal, so be patient. Once the cross-linking heals, you may also need to get new contact lenses or glasses. This is due to improved vision.


The procedure does not cure keratoconus. It does not reverse cornea changes. It helps slow down progressive keratoconus. It does this by strengthening the cornea.


For more information on corneal cross-linking for keratoconus, or to schedule an appointment, contact Coastal Vision Medical Group in Norco, California by calling (888) 501-4496 today.

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