Previously, we explained keratoconus, and how the disease can affect your vision and your life. There are treatment options for this condition, though, and one of the most exciting developments in ophthalmology in the last 20 years has been Corneal Collagen Crosslinking with Riboflavin, or CXL for short.
The procedure was developed in 1997 by Eberhard Spoerl and his team at Dresden Institute of Technology, and began clinical trials in Germany the following year. In the United States, clinical trials began in 2008, and the procedure was approved in 2016 for both keratoconus and post-LASIK ectasia.
After receiving the diagnosis of keratoconus and corneal topography to determine the level of your condition, you’ll be given the go-ahead for this procedure. It’s an in-office procedure, and takes 60-90 minutes in most cases. In the United States, the most common method is epithelial-on crosslinking. You’ll be placed in a reclining position, and riboflavin (Vitamin B2) drops will be administered to your eye. The drops will be administered at a specific frequency directed by the doctor, who will evaluate your eye and make ensure that your cornea has sufficient riboflavin present.
Following the drops, your corneal thickness will be measured, and UV light will be applied to your eye. In some cases, a bandage contact lens will also be administered to help the healing process. You’ll be given antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops, as well. You’ll also be advised not to rub your eyes for several days following the procedure
While some patients may need more than one CXL treatment, about 99% of patients who have CXL will regain stability in their keratoconus, which is significant for a condition that could otherwise lead to vision loss.
If you’ve been diagnosed with keratoconus, you’ll need regular appointments with an ophthalmologist to monitor the progression of your condition and determine what type of treatment is appropriate. CXL is one of several ways to encourage stability in eyes with keratoconus.