Keratoconus (kehr-uh-toh-KOH-nus) is a condition in which the normally round, dome-shaped cornea thins and becomes distorted and irregular. A cone-like bulge develops, resulting in significant visual distortion. The apex of the cone is usually displaced outwards and downwards and in the line of sight, creating irregular astigmatism.
Dr. Mozayeni, our qualified ophthalmologist and LASIK eye surgeon, has frequently encountered this common disease during his expert exams and consultations. Patients who find they have Keratoconus will typically need a corneal transplant. But, there is an exciting, new, non-invasive treatment on the horizon.
Corneal Cross Linking (CXL), which has been performed in Europe since 1997, is now in clinical trials here in the United States with hopes of FDA approval in early 2013. Tens of thousands of these procedures have been performed with very high success rates and with very few problems. It is a far less risky procedure than a cornea transplant and a welcomed alternative.
CXL is a relatively non-invasive and low-risk procedure designed to strengthen the corneal tissue of a person’s eye, particularly when Keratoconus exists. The goal of CXL is to prevent the corneal tissue from progressively weakening, thereby prolonging or avoiding a more risky and invasive cornea transplant.
Corneal Cross Linking can also be used to treat other problems, such as fluctuating vision due to prior Radial Keratotomy (RK) surgery, a procedure that was mostly performed from 1980 to 1995.
How is Corneal Cross Linking performed?
Corneal Cross Linking is performed by applying liquid Riboflavin (one of the B vitamins) to the eye followed by ultraviolet light. This combination causes strong bonds to form between corneal fibers, providing strength and stability to the tissue. In most cases, it also reduces the amount of astigmatism for vision to improve, thus creating more options for correcting vision, such as standard soft or toric contact lenses, glasses, and even laser vision correction.
When will Corneal Cross Linking be available?
As a Cornea Specialist, Dr. Mozayeni is very excited to see this procedure become accepted worldwide and plans to offer it as soon as it is FDA approved, which is anticipated at the beginning of 2013. However, we are currently accepting patients with Keratoconus in order to establish a baseline examination and assess their problem in detail. Having baseline corneal mapping performed using our sophisticated Pentacam® system is essential in knowing if you are, or will be, a candidate for CXL in the future. In some cases where the disease is rapidly progressing and waiting until 2013 is not recommended, we will refer you to a trial site to consider immediate treatment.
If you have been told that you have Keratoconus, now is the time to begin considering Corneal Cross Linking as a way to halt the disease process and prolong or prevent the need for a cornea transplant. Contact us for a complete examination, including corneal mapping, and get established as a candidate for this exciting technology that could save your vision.