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The Corneal Cross-Linking Procedure Can Stabilize Your Vision

If you suffer from keratoconus, Dr. Andrew Holzman may recommend a corneal cross-linking procedure at his Washington, D.C., area practice. During this minimally invasive treatment, he will use a special vitamin solution and an ultraviolet (UV) light to strengthen the connective tissues in your eyes. Corneal cross-linking (CXL) cannot cure keratoconus. However, it can halt the progression of the disease and prevent the need for a corneal transplant. The treatment involves minimal discomfort, and it has a very quick recovery time. Dr. Holzman is one of a select group of doctors qualified to perform the corneal cross-linking procedure.

What Is Corneal Cross-linking?

Keratoconus occurs when the collagen fibers in your cornea begin to break down. In response, your cornea will grow thinner. Eventually, it will take on a conical shape, which will affect the way that your eye refracts light. CXL aims to strengthen the connective fibers in your eye. In this way, it will prevent further changes to your cornea, and it will help to stabilize your vision. In use since 1999, corneal cross-linking was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, only a subset of doctors across the country are authorized to perform this procedure. Dr. Holzman is one of them, thanks to his skill, expertise, and proven results.

Illustration of a cornea with keratoconus before and after corneal cross-linking

The purpose of corneal cross-linking is to fortify the cornea by increasing the number of attachments that bind the collagen fibers to each other.

Procedure Overview

Before your treatment, Dr. Holzman will administer anesthetic eye drops. Then he will apply riboflavin (vitamin B12) eye drops. A special UV light will activate the vitamins, and it will remain focused on your eye for up to 30 minutes. Riboflavin will strengthen the chemical bonds between collagen fibers. In this way, it can prevent further changes to the shape of your cornea. The entire process will typically take between an hour and an hour-and-a-half.

Dr. Holzman is one of a select group of doctors qualified to perform the corneal cross-linking procedure.

Types of Corneal Cross-linking Procedures

Dr. Holzman performs the following two types of corneal cross-linking.

Epithelium-off CXL

During epithelium-off CXL, Dr. Holzman will remove the outer layer of your cornea, known as the epithelium. With this technique, the riboflavin drops can penetrate your cornea much more easily. Epithelial cells will heal on their own within a few days.

Epithelium-on CXL

During epithelium-on CXL, Dr. Holzman will leave the epithelium intact. This technique will allow for faster healing and reduced risk for infection. However, studies show that epithelium-on CXL may not be as effective as an epithelium-off procedure. Typically, this technique is most successful on patients under age 35.

CXL Results and Recovery

Once your procedure is complete, Dr. Holzman will prescribe antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops. He may also place a healing contact lens over your eye, particularly if you have had epithelium-off CXL. The entire healing process should take no more than a few weeks. With epithelium-off CXL, you can usually resume your normal routine in five to seven days. If you have epithelium-on CXL, you can typically go back to your regular activities the following day.

Corneal cross-linking is primarily intended to stop your vision from getting worse. Immediately following your procedure, your vision may be a bit blurry, but it should improve over the next three to six weeks. Once you have recovered, you could enjoy stable vision that will last for many years, if not the rest of your life. In some cases, you could actually experience an improvement in your eyesight. Usually, this will become apparent several months after your procedure, when you may need a new glasses or contact lens prescription.

Contact Us to Schedule Your Consultation

During your consultation, Dr. Holzman will explain the two types of CXL and determine whether the procedure is right for you. To learn more about corneal cross-linking, and to find out if the procedure is right for you, contact Dr. Holzman’s practice today.

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Dr. Holzman is the best - very honest, very professional yet very friendly and personable. Ben E.

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