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Treating Keratoconus: Corneal Collagen Cross Linking FAQs

Corneal cross-linking is being used as an effective treatment for keratoconus for over a decade now and has successfully proven its efficacy in putting a stop to the progressive protrusion of the cornea. Since this is only this year that the US Food and Drug Administration has endorsed corneal cross-linking as an authored treatment for Keratoconus, the public has multiple questions, concerns, and queries regarding the treatment procedure and its efficacy. Here are the most frequently asked questions asked by keratoconus patients pertaining to the efficacy of corneal cross-linking and their respective answers to clear your doubts and concerns about the treatment. Read on.

Is Corneal Collagen Cross Linking right for me?

Utilizing specialized equipment with an in-depth evaluation we are able to assess the severity of corneal damage to determine if  Cross Linking is required. If there is no evidence of progression or if there is already severe corneal shape damage, then Corneal Collagen Cross Linking will have very little benefit. Additionally, many patients who suffer from severe corneal damage due to keratoconus continue to experience the same symptoms after CXL.

Is it a painful process?

Unlike many other surgical and non-surgical treatments that cause pain, discomfort or irritability, corneal cross-linking is an absolutely neutral, painless and hassle-free ophthalmic treatment. The affected cornea is numbed with topical anesthesia before infusing UVA rays and riboflavin on the bulging cornea. The riboflavin is the simple vitamin B fluid with no acidic strength and the UVA rays too have a lesser intensity than broad day sunlight. The treatment is conveniently performed by an expert without making the patient go through a strenuous haul of processes, as in other surgeries.

How long does the treatment session last?

The actual treatment phase lasts around a maximum of half-an-hour, including the anesthesia as well as the infusion of riboflavin and UVA rays. However, depending upon the intensity of the disorder and the health status of the patient, the physician might ask the patient to come an hour or two, prior to the treatment for a pre-treatment examination to allow the patient to relax and prepare for the process. Similarly, the physician might also ask the patient to stay for a while after the treatment to check for any post-treatment effects.

Is cross-linking an ongoing treatment?

Corneal cross-linking is a one-time treatment and does not span over a series of treatment sessions. The treatment can be redone if the need arises at any point; however, there have been only a few, proportionally negligible cases of treatment repetition. Cross-Linking is performed in a single go and aside from a couple of post-treatment check-ups and follow-ups, no additional or periodic treatment sessions are required.

What is the ideal age and health status for CXL treatment?

Corneal cross-linking is ideally performed before 30 years of age. This is because the cornea gains a natural stability and stiffness in the initial 30s. This natural stiffness and stability of cornea is the actual hurdle in the efficacy of corneal cross-linking. The ideal characteristics for a keratoconus patient to become an eligible candidate for corneal cross-linking include no large pupils, eye dryness or other ophthalmic infections.

What are the side effects, risks, and consequences of corneal cross-linking?

Corneal cross-linking is a safer and convenient process as compared to other treatments. However, it might cause some minor after-treatment effects in some patients such as sensitivity to sudden light exposure, slight blurriness, haziness or slight irritability. These effects are natural and occur merely because of the cross-linking between the anterior eye and the corneal layer to reduce the leanness of the cornea and retain it in its place.

Will I need contact lenses after corneal cross-linking?

While Corneal cross-linking will stop the progression of keratoconus, it will not restore the damaged vision. Very often (scleral) contact lenses are needed to correct the vision post-CXL.