Health Canada has licensed the ultraviolet light delivery source necessary for corneal collagen cross-linking treatment. This means were finally introducing said treatment to Yonge Eglinton Laser Centre in Toronto! Were one of the first places in Canada to offer this treatment, you know. And furthermore -- weve done several of these treatments over the past few weeks with a great deal of success!
This is very good news. Before this, we didnt have any treatment to hinder the progression of keratoconus. Now, we at least have an alternative to simply waiting for the disorder to get worse.
Who benefits from this treatment, you ask? Well, keratoconus tends to progress in ones twenties or thirties. If we can stop it in its tracks while the patient is young, we can dramatically lessen the number of people who require a corneal transplant. Given this, keratoconus patients in their teens and twenties may want to undergo cross-linking in order to keep their vision stable and to keep them seeing well with glasses.
The treatment is quite simple and only takes an hour to perform. During the process, we use Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) to absorb the UV light that is applied to the cornea, which in turn generates free radicals.
And what are they, you ask in that endearing spirit of perpetual curiosity that makes the sobriquet Inquisitive Reader so richly deserved? A free radical is an atom or molecule that bears an unpaired electronand is extremely reactive, capable of engaging in rapid chain reactions that destabilize other molecules and generate many more free radicals. Since the cornea is made up of collagen, a protein not unlike that which makes upone's hair, it can react with the free radicals to create bonds, or cross-links.
Inquisitive Reader: *drops coffee in immense surprise, cat on lap screeches away drenched in boiling hot coffee* You mean its just like my hair when I get a perm at the hairdressers?
*Nods* Yes. Their chemicals aid the formation of bonds between the collagen in your hair to make it curly. Corneal collagen cross-linking bonds the fibers of the cornea, resulting in a much stronger mesh that resists the tendency to bulge outward in the manner so characteristic of keratoconus. The keratoconus is therefore slowed down and in some cases prevented from progressing any further. Its similar to reinforcing concrete or vulcanizing latex to make it hard enough for commercial use.
The treatment itself is not only brief, but painless as well. However, the eyes are watery and sore for 24 to 48 hours following the procedure,and vision is blurry for a week or so. Not a lot of fun, I agree, but worth it in the long run if you can avoid a corneal transplant.