To help treat patients with keratoconus, Corneal Collagen Cross Linking (CXL) can strengthen the cornea as well as prevent further vision loss. Keratoconus weakens, thins, and bulges the cornea forward into the shape of a cone, resulting in poor vision. Fortunately, studies have shown that CXL successfully treats keratoconus and often prevents the need for a corneal transplant.
What is Keratoconus?
The exact cause of this degenerative eye disease is not known, but many theories claim that cellular causes, genetics, and environmental factors may play a role in the development of keratoconus. The disease commonly appears in teens and young adults, and can cause visual impairment such as:
- Distorted vision
- Blurred vision
- Corneal scarring
The progression of the disease usually happens gradually and may even slow or stop at different stages. For most patients, the first symptom is blurred vision or distorted vision. In the early stages, patients may notice the worsening of their nearsightedness or astigmatism leading to numerous changes in prescription.
The Basics of Corneal Collagen Cross Linking
Corneal Collagen Cross Linking involves the use of UV light and a photosensitizer to strengthen the chemical bonds found in the cornea. The goal of this procedure is to stop ectasia, or irregular changes in corneal shape, from progressing.
The technique was first used in the late 1990s, and based on studies lasting for over a decade, the effects seem to last for a long time and could even be permanent. According to several research studies, it appears that CXL may be able to prevent further loss of vision in more than 95 percent of patients. It is even shown to improve vision in 60-81 percent of those who have undergone the procedure.