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Cross Linking for Keratoconus Treatment Can Be Extremely Beneficial

A woman rubs her eye with the back of her hand because it is irritated

Patients with degenerative keratoconus have new treatment options through state-of-the-art methods that can prevent corneal deterioration and restore clear vision. TLC Yonge Eglinton Laser Eye Centre offers cross-linking for keratoconus patients in the Toronto, ON, area. By combining cross linking with other advanced laser surgery techniques, our doctors can help you avoid a corneal transplant.

What Is Cross Linking for Keratoconus?

Corneal cross linking (CXL) is a surgical procedure designed to halt the progression of keratoconus. Using a combination of liquid riboflavin (vitamin B2) and ultraviolet (UV-A) light, the technique strengthens the cornea, which tends to bulge, stretch, and thin in keratoconus patients. Introduced in Germany in the late 1990's, CXL has been in widespread use in Europe for years. The riboflavin ophthalmic solution and surgical process was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April 2016.

In keratoconus corneas, collagen fibers slowly break down, distorting the shape and causing symptoms such as pain and visual disturbance.The riboflavin eye drops work to promote cross-linking of collagen fiber, which strengthens and stiffens the weakened cornea. It is best to undergo cross linking while your vision is still correctable with prescription lenses: the sooner, the better.

Corneal cross linking (CXL) is a surgical procedure designed to halt the progression of keratoconus.

Clinical studies have confirmed the safety and effectiveness of this procedure. A demonstrated arrest of keratoconus progression was reported in more than 90% of treated patients, and over 60% of bulging corneas were shown to flatten by 1-2 diopters.

About the Procedure

Keratoconus patients at TLC Yonge Eglinton Centre first receive a comprehensive exam, including measurement and corneal mapping. Assuming you are a good candidate for cross linking, the procedure begins as you relax in a reclining chair. In addition to numbing eye drops, you may receive a mild sedative to aid your comfort.

Cross linking for keratoconus is essentially a three-part procedure, which is usually completed in about an hour. 

  1. Removal of the corneal epithelial (exterior surface) with a precision laser 
  2. Administration of liquid riboflavin, soaking the cornea and anterior chamber for 20 minutes
  3. Exposure to UV-A light for 30 minutes

This type of UV light, a long-wave blacklight, has been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and vitiligo. In CLX, it works to help the riboflavin bond and strengthen the collagen fibers in the corneal tissue. The UV light provides protection from infection due to its natural sterilizing effect. At the same time, the riboflavin solution effectively blocks the inner eye from sustaining any UV damage in the procedure.

Recovery includes a week of rest before resuming normal activity. During the first three to five days, you will wear a soft-bandage contact lens. There may be some discomfort during this initial period, but it can generally be managed with over-the-counter medication. If needed, stronger pain medication can be prescribed, along with antibiotic and steroid eye drops to use for three weeks.

While your vision is likely to be blurry at first, it should clear after a month, and you can wear contact lenses after two weeks. Visual complications are very rare.

Why Choose Us?

The highly experienced specialists at TLC Yonge Eglinton Laser Eye Centre have had notable success treating keratoconus. We are pleased to help patients achieve ocular health and sharp vision without need for a corneal transplant. For the best result, we offer a combination of corneal procedures, including corneal ring inserts and laser reshaping.

Make An Appointment

With an outstanding reputation for all types of laser eye surgery, Yonge Eglinton offers comprehensive care for keratoconus patients. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists or learn more about keratoconus treatment cost, please contact us today.