At Alliance Vision Institute, we are dedicated to meeting your vision needs with compassion and personalized care. Our eye doctors are experienced in treating a variety of eye conditions, including keratoconus. We pride ourselves on offering the most advanced treatments available, including Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL).
Keratoconus is a progressive eye disorder that affects the cornea, the clear layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye. In this condition, the cornea becomes thinner and more cone-shaped, causing an irregular eye shape and distorted vision, astigmatism, and other visual problems.
The exact cause of keratoconus is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It often develops in the teenage years or early 20s and can progress slowly over time.
If left untreated, keratoconus can cause irreversible vision loss. In severe cases, keratoconus can even cause blindness. However, with early diagnosis and treatment, the majority of people with keratoconus are able to maintain good vision and avoid severe complications.
There is no known cure for keratoconus, but there are a variety of treatment options available that can effectively manage the condition and prevent further vision loss. Treatment for keratoconus depends on the severity of the condition, as well as the individual patient’s needs and goals. Early Trusted Source Scleral Lenses or CXL, Which Should Come First? Mueller B, Saenz B Go to Source detection and monitoring is important to maintain eye health as well as best possible vision.
For patients with mild keratoconus, soft contact lenses or even glasses can be enough to comfortably correct vision. As the condition progresses, specially fitted rigid gas permeable contacts can help reshape the cornea while improving vision. Regular checkups with your eye doctor are important to monitor any progression of the disease.
Corneal cross-linking is a minimally-invasive procedure that treats keratoconus by strengthening the collagen fibers of the cornea to slow or stop the progression of the disease. It works by using ultraviolet light and a photosensitizing agent to create new chemical bonds within the cornea, which increases its strength and stability. Corneal cross-linking is highly effective in halting the progression of keratoconus, but some patients may still need specialty contacts to achieve their best possible vision.
Patients with keratoconus who desire more permanent vision correction may be candidates for EVO Visian ICL™. The ICL procedure is a vision correction surgery in which a collamer lens is implanted in the eye to correct nearsightedness with or without astigmatism. For many patients, this procedure can be performed after CXL, once the eyes have healed and the cornea is stable.
PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is a vision correction surgery that is often presented as a LASIK alternative for people who are not candidates for LASIK due to irregular corneas. For patients who are candidates for both CXL and PRK, a combined treatment plan can stabilize the cornea while also improving Trusted Source Combined corneal CXL and photorefractive keratectomy for treatment of keratoconus: a review Al-Mohaimeed MM Go to Source vision.
In severe cases, a corneal transplant may be necessary. During this procedure, the damaged cornea is replaced with a healthy cornea from a donor. Corneal transplants are typically successful, but they do carry some risks, including infection and rejection of the donor tissue. Earlier intervention and treatment can delay, or even prevent, the need for a corneal transplant.
The exact cause of keratoconus is unknown, but genetics and environmental factors are thought to play a role. It has been linked to conditions such as atopic disease, chronic eye rubbing, and connective tissue disorders.
Keratoconus is typically diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam, which may include a visual acuity test, corneal topography, and a slit-lamp exam.
During the procedure, the patient is given a topical anesthetic, and the surface layer of the cornea (the epithelium) is removed to expose the underlying corneal tissue. A solution of riboflavin (a photosensitizing agent) is then applied to the cornea, which is then exposed to ultraviolet light for a specific period of time. The riboflavin absorbs the ultraviolet light and creates new chemical bonds (called cross-links) within the cornea, strengthening it and making it more stable. The entire procedure usually takes around 30-45 minutes and is done on an outpatient basis
After the procedure, the patient may experience some discomfort or blurred vision for a few days, but this typically subsides quickly. The patient is usually prescribed eye drops and instructed to avoid rubbing their eyes and wearing contact lenses for several days.
1 Mueller B, Saenz B. Scleral Lenses or CXL, Which Should Come First? Modern Optometry Jan/Feb 2020. Available: https://d4wgqzyt29bpb.cloudfront.net/documents/me/0120MOD_Feature_Saenz.pdf Accessed April 7, 2023.
2 Al-Mohaimeed MM. Combined corneal CXL and photorefractive keratectomy for treatment of keratoconus: a review. Int J Ophthalmol. 2019 Dec 18;12(12). doi: 10.18240/ijo.2019.12.16. PMID: 31850179; PMCID: PMC6901893.
3 John Hopkins University. Keratoconus Available: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/keratoconus# Accessed April 7, 2023
The doctors at Alliance Vision Institute have reviewed and approved this content.