Corneal cross-linking (CXL) treats a progressive eye condition known as keratoconus. CXL works by strengthening and rebuilding collagen fibers (connective tissues) in the eye to strengthen the cornea and restore clear vision. CXL is effective in slowing or stopping the progression of keratoconus in most patients.
CXL is a newer treatment for patients with keratoconus. This is a condition in which the cornea, the transparent layer at the front of the eye, thins and gradually bulges outwards, causing distorted vision. Glasses or contacts can improve vision for people with keratoconus, but if symptoms progress, contacts can no longer be worn because of the distorted eye shape. If vision gradually becomes more blurry and you have eye pain, CXL can help.
CXL is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia. Riboflavin drops (vitamin B12) are first applied to the cornea. After 30-45 minutes, the cornea is exposed to UV-A light, causing the riboflavin to react with the corneal tissue, creating new cross-links between the collagen fibers and strengthening the cornea. Studies have shown that CXL can effectively slow or halt the progression of keratoconus in most patients.
After CXL treatment, your eyes may be dry, sensitive to light, and irritated for about one week. You may also have a foreign body sensation and feel like something is stuck in your eye. For one week, avoid rubbing your eye, do not apply makeup, avoid strenuous activity, and be careful not to get water in the treated eye. You will be prescribed eye drops that can help with dry eye and irritation. Hazy or blurry vision is also a common symptom but clear vision will be gradually restored in about 2-3 weeks.
If you have been diagnosed with keratoconus and your symptoms have started to worsen, schedule a consultation at Kung Eye Center. Our expert team of ophthalmologists will examine your eyes and help you determine whether CXL is the right treatment for you.