Keratoconus: We Offer Two Solutions
For Treatment of Keratoconus
Corneal collagen cross-linking, also known as KXL or CXL, is the first and only FDA-approved therapeutic procedure that can help treat keratoconus. It does so by stabilizing the cornea and preventing it from becoming weaker and getting thinner.
What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a condition in which the cornea begins to weaken and become misshapen. Rather than a spherical shape, the cornea gradually becomes steeper, resembling more of a cone. This leads to distorted vision that is categorized as high astigmatism and is accompanied by symptoms such as light sensitivity and rapid regression in the patient’s prescription.
Patients are typically diagnosed with keratoconus in their late teens or 20s. Since it is a very progressive disease, it may cause patients to eventually need a rigid contact lens or a corneal transplant.
What is Corneal Cross-linking?
Corneal cross-linking (CXL) is the latest innovation in the treatment of keratoconus by putting vitamin B2 drops (riboflavin) into the cornea and then exposing it to ultraviolet light. This ultimately strengthens the bonds in the cornea and halts the progression of keratoconus.
How is the Corneal Cross-linking procedure performed?
When starting CXL, the patient first receives anesthetic drops to numb the cornea to prevent any discomfort or pain during the procedure. Once it is numbed, the surgeon will gently remove the outer layer of the cornea, also known as the corneal epithelium, and apply the riboflavin drops for approximately 30 minutes. The surgeon will evaluate your eye to ensure that it has enough riboflavin, and then will place the ultraviolet light to your cornea for up to 30 minutes. After the procedure has been finished, a bandage contact will be placed over the cornea, and the patient will be scheduled to be seen the next morning.
For the first few days, patients may experience mild to moderate pain as the epithelium heals. The bandage contact is removed about a week after the initial procedure, and vision will be blurry during that time. The return of fully clear vision may take up to a month.
CXL is treated one eye at a time, and the period between each procedure can range from 1-3 months.
Who is a Good Candidate for Corneal Cross-linking?
A viable candidate for CXL is a patient with mild to moderate keratoconus who has decent vision in their current prescription glasses or contacts. Corneal cross-linking has been 94% successfully in completely stopping the progression of keratoconus. However, cross-linking does not return the cornea back to its original, spherical shape, and does not eliminate the need for glasses or contacts.
Depending on the provider, your insurance may cover the procedure if you have documented progression of your keratoconus.
If you are interested in learning more about cross-linking or want to find out if you are a potential candidate, please schedule your complimentary eye exam and consultation with us today!
What are INTACS?
INTACS are FDA-approved thin rings that are inserted into the cornea to improve and stabilize its shape. Functionally, the way they provide structure to the cornea and restore its dome-like shape is very similar to how rods are used in a tent.
INTACS are used to stop the progression of keratoconus and can be used in conjunction with cross-linking. These thin rings can even “soften” the astigmatism (or cone) for a patient and make it easier to wear contact lenses. However, INTACS does not eliminate the need for contacts or glasses.
How is the INTACS procedure performed?
When starting the INTACS procedure, the patient will first receive topical anesthesia to numb the cornea in order to prevent any pain or discomfort. Once it is numbed, the surgeon will create a small incision, and then insert the clear semi-circular ring beneath the surface of the cornea. This procedure lasts around 15 minutes in total.
In the first few days after the procedure, patients may experience a mild to moderate scratching sensation, and some soreness that can be relieved with ibuprofen. However, the patient will be unable to feel or see the INTACS, as they are below the surface of the cornea.
Who is a Good Candidate for INTACS?
A good candidate for INTACS is a patient with mild to moderate keratoconus who is frustrated by their contacts or glasses. In general, INTACS can reduce one’s astigmatism by half, and more importantly, stop the rapid progression of keratoconus.
Your insurance may cover the procedure if you have documented progression of your keratoconus.
If you are interested in learning more about INTACS or want to find out if you are a potential candidate, please schedule your complimentary eye exam and consultation with us today!