Treating Keratoconus with Corneal Crosslinking

blurred visionThe cornea is the transparent layer covering the front of the eye. In addition to serving as a protective barrier against dirt, germs and particles that can drift in and harm the eye, the cornea helps to focus light that enters the eye. Along with the lens, the cornea is responsible for focusing light on the retina, or the layer of light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.

It is estimated that approximately 1 out of every 2,000 people will develop a disease called keratoconus, which affects the focusing power of the cornea and causes distorted vision. As one of Brooklyn’s leading ophthalmologists, Dr. Samer Khosrof of Leading Lasik offers the comprehensive care and management of keratoconus, including an innovative treatment known as corneal crosslinking.

What Causes Keratoconus?

A healthy cornea has a round shape, similar to a basketball. Keratoconus causes the cornea to weaken, thin and bulge, taking on a more cone-like shape. As it becomes more irregularly shaped and highly astigmatic, the cornea is not able to properly focus light on the retina. This causes distorted and blurred vision and, in some cases, glare and light sensitivity.

Keratoconus has been linked to several causes, including overexposure to the sun’s UV rays, a history of poorly fitted contact lenses, chronic eye irritation and genetic predisposition. Research also suggests keratoconus stems from an imbalance of enzymes within the cornea.

Treatment Options

Mild cases of keratoconus can be helped with eyeglasses or soft contact lenses. As the disease worsens, and visual aids no longer provide sufficient correction, Dr. Khosrof may recommend one of several treatment options. Special lenses, like gas permeable contact lenses and scleral lenses, may help. Intacs are small inserts placed in the middle of the cornea to flatten it and eliminate some of the abnormalities caused by keratoconus. Corneal crosslinking is another way to slow down the progression of keratoconus. In the most severe cases, corneal transplant is needed.

Corneal Crosslinking

corneal crosslinkingHealthy corneas have crosslinks between their collagen fibers that act as natural “anchors” and prevent them from bulging or distorting.

Corneal crosslinking is performed to strengthen the corneal tissue and stop the progressive bulging. Corneal crosslinking can be performed with the epithelium (outer layer of the cornea) either on or off. It is generally performed on an outpatient basis at Dr. Khosrof’s office; numbing eye drops and a mild sedative are provided for patient comfort.

During corneal crosslinking, special riboflavin drops are placed in the eye and activated by an ultraviolet light. The combination of these factors has been shown to increase the collagen crosslinks or natural anchors within the cornea. With corneal crosslinking, the cornea is more stable and better able to hold its shape as well as focus better.

Studies have shown that corneal crosslinking can often eliminate the need for corneal transplant and enable patients to wear visual aids more comfortably.

Learn More about Keratoconus and Corneal Crosslinking

If you have been diagnosed with keratoconus and would like to discuss your treatment options with Dr. Khosrof, please call at 718-630-1070 today and request a consultation.

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