Corneal Cross-linking Strengthens the Cornea
By Andrew E Holzman, MD FACS on February 14, 2017
There are many eye diseases that can impact the health and function of the cornea. A weak or damaged cornea will result in vision problems. Without treatment, these diseases can lead to complete vision loss, and the need for a corneal transplant. One of the most common diseases that affects the cornea is keratoconus. Keratoconus weakens and distorts the cornea, greatly diminishing vision. Corneal cross-linking is a new, minimally-invasive treatment that increases collagen links in the eye to strengthen the cornea. Corneal cross-linking, or CXL, stops the progression of keratoconus and prevents vision loss. For those who are good corneal cross-linking candidates at our Washington, DC practice, CXL is an excellent alternative to invasive corneal transplant surgery.
Corneal Cross-linking Candidates
Corneal cross-linking is a new technique for the treatment of keratoconus. Keratoconus is a condition that causes weakness and distortion of the cornea, both of which lead to vision loss. A healthy cornea is able to maintain its shape and function thanks to a crosslinking of corneal fibers. In patients with keratoconus, these crosslinks are broken down, leaving a patient without the collagen support that is necessary to maintain a healthy corneal shape. As these crosslinks continue to breakdown, vision will deteriorate, eventually leading to the need for a corneal transplant. Corneal cross-linking offers patients an alternative treatment option.
Rather than replacing a damaged cornea, CXL offers patients the opportunity to strengthen the cornea they already have. Using riboflavin eye drops and brief exposure to UV light, corneal cross-linking treatment can increase the amount of collagen links in the cornea, improving the shape of the cornea, enhancing vision, and preventing further progression of keratoconus. Patients who may be ideal candidates for CXL include the following:
- Patients with evidence of keratoconus progression
- Younger patients who are likely to continue to see the disease progress in the coming years
- Patients who wish to avoid invasive corneal transplant surgery
Corneal cross-linking has yet to be approved by the FDA, but our practice is one of the few to be approved to conduct clinical trials. Therefore, any patient who is interested in learning if he or she is an ideal candidate for CXL should see Dr. Andrew E. Holzman.
How Effective Is Corneal Cross-linking?
The results of CXL have been extremely positive. This technique has been proven to prevent further vision loss in more than 95 percent of patients who have undergone treatment. Aside from stopping the progression of vision loss, CXL strengthens the cornea and has been shown to improve a patient’s current vision, requiring many patients to receive new vision prescriptions. Studies show that the results of CXL can last for many years, and may even be permanent.
Dr. Andrew E. Holzman prides himself on providing high quality eye treatment that takes advantage of the latest technologies, and corneal cross-linking is just one such example. If your vision has been affected by keratoconus and you’d like to know if CXL may be right for you, contact Dr. Holzman’s practice today.