An exciting new treatment offers promise to individuals that suffer from a degenerative eye disease known as keratoconus. When performed early enough, corneal cross-linking could reduce the need to wear corrective lenses or, if the disease progresses too far, have a corneal transplant. The team at Ophthalmic Consultants of Connecticut is pleased to announce that we are now offering corneal cross-linking at our Fairfield location.
What Is Keratoconus?
To appreciate the possibilities of corneal cross-linking, it is important to understand keratoconus. The progressive disease affects the eye’s cornea, or the outermost layer that is responsible for focusing light that enters the eye. Normally, the cornea is round, but keratoconus causes the cornea to take on a more conical shape. In addition to morphing in shape, the cornea also thins and bulges outward from the eye.
All of these changes compromise the cornea’s ability to focus light. As a result, individuals with keratoconus may experience nearsightedness and astigmatism. They may need to change their prescription in glasses and contact lenses frequently to compensate for visual changes. Other symptoms of the disease can include sensitivity to light, glare and eye irritation.
Why Ophthalmologists Are Excited about Corneal Cross-Linking
For many years, ophthalmologists focused on managing the symptoms of keratoconus with visual aids in the early stages and, if the disease progressed far enough, recommending corneal transplant surgery. However, corneal cross-linking is intended to halt the progression of the disease, so that more invasive treatment in the future is not needed. Corneal cross-linking was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2016.
The cornea has small protein fibers called collagen, which help keep it strong and intact. The goal of corneal cross-linking is to strengthen these fibers, to hold the cornea in place and prevent it from distorting.
What Happens During Corneal Cross-Linking
Corneal cross-linking is an in-office procedure that takes between 60 to 90 minutes. Patients may need more than one treatment to achieve the desired outcomes.
First, riboflavin drops are administered to the surface of the eye, and then ultraviolet light is delivered to the eye at differing levels of intensity and time intervals. The reaction between the ultraviolet light and riboflavin helps to strengthen the collagen links in the cornea. By strengthening the cornea, corneal cross-linking slows the progression of keratoconus and staves off vision loss.
To learn more about keratoconus and corneal cross-linking, please contact OCC Eye. Call 203-366-8000 or email our practice today.