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Strengthening Weak Corneas Through Corneal Cross-Linking

It’s easy to take good, clear vision for granted. But if your vision is blurry — and especially if your sight is progressively becoming worse — it can take a big toll on your quality of life. Different issues can cause poor vision, including problems with your cornea, the clear, dome-shaped covering on the front of your eye.

Keratoconus is a relatively uncommon and progressive corneal disease that affects about 200 of every 100,000 people worldwide. In this disease, your cornea thins out and assumes a bugling, cone-like shape that’s much thicker and steeper in the middle. Not surprisingly, light passing through the misshapen cornea is distorted, resulting in vision that’s also distorted and blurry.

Keratoconus requires advanced treatments to help strengthen the cornea so it’s less likely to thin and change shape. At Advanced Lasik, Randa Garrana, MD, offers a state-of-the-art treatment called corneal cross-linking (or CXL) to help stop the progression of keratoconus, so patients in Long Beach, California, can enjoy better vision. If you have keratoconus, here’s how corneal cross-linking could help you.

Why keratoconus happens

Keratoconus develops in people whose corneas are weaker than normal. While researchers don’t know the exact cause of keratoconus or the corneal weakness that leads to it, studies suggest it could be related to an enzyme imbalance inside the corneal tissues. The imbalance may make the cornea more susceptible to a type of tissue damage called oxidative damage.

Keratoconus typically begins during the teen years or early adulthood, becoming progressively worse until sometime during middle age, when the condition tends to stabilize. In most cases, the condition progresses slowly but steadily, and many people find they need a new prescription each time they visit the ophthalmologist. In a few cases, keratoconus progresses rapidly, forming scar tissue that can impair vision.

Keratoconus tends to “run” in families. Other risk factors include chronic eye irritation and eye rubbing, along with long-term wear of poorly-fitted contact lenses and excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays. One or both eyes may be affected.

How corneal cross-linking works

Corneal cross-linking is an FDA-approved treatment that focuses on strengthening the collagen fibers inside your cornea. These fibers help the cornea maintain its normal rounded shape, preventing the cornea from bulging and assuming a more cone-like shape. The goal of corneal cross-linking is to prevent keratoconus from progressing, and in some cases, it may even help reverse some of the effects of keratoconus.

Dr. Garrana uses a special cross-linking technique that combines targeted use of ultraviolet energy with eye drops containing riboflavin, a B vitamin. UV energy helps promote new collagen development while also helping the fibers “connect” or link with each other, forming a strong meshwork to support the cornea. Riboflavin eye drops absorb more of the UV energy for enhanced effects inside the corneal tissue.

Corneal cross-linking with riboflavin helps treat keratoconus by:

Treatment takes about an hour. Afterward, you may have some minor discomfort in your eye while it heals and recovers. Most patients have a complete recovery within a week or two. 

Find out if CXL could help your blurry vision

Keratoconus is just one cause of blurry vision. If you’re having any vision problems or if you’d like to learn more about CXL and how it could treat your keratoconus, call Dr. Garrana or use our online form to request an exam and consultation today.

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