Keratoconus Treatment

Keratoconus is a condition in which the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) develops an irregular conical shape, causing your vision to blur. There are a number of treatments available, including glasses, contacts, corneal implants and corneal transplants, depending on the stage and severity of your condition.

However, an innovative and highly effective new treatment for keratoconus is now available at Eye Institute. This treatment, called corneal collagen cross-linking, may be able to stop your vision from worsening, and has even been shown to improve vision in some people.

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What is corneal cross-linking?

The full name of the procedure is actually corneal collagen cross-linking with riboflavin, also called CXL for short. It is used to strengthen the cornea in people with keratoconus. In doing so, corneal cross-linking can stop keratoconus from worsening. It can also help flatten the central cornea in about 50% of patients, who often experience better vision as a result.

The procedure is relatively simple and highly effective. It’s also very safe, and complications are extremely unlikely.


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What to expect from the corneal collagen cross-linking procedure:

Before the procedure, you’ll be given local anaesthetic drops, so you won’t feel any pain.

Your surgeon will carefully and painlessly remove the surface of your cornea, and riboflavin (Vitamin B2) drops will be applied to your eye for 20 minutes.

Then, a measured dosage of UV light is applied to your cornea for a further 10 minutes. Together with the riboflavin, the UV light encourages bonds between collagen fibrils to form, strengthening your cornea.

After the treatment, a contact lens will be placed on your eye to help with healing and make your eye more comfortable. You’ll need to keep this in place for a few days, and you’ll also be given eye drops to use. Any discomfort during healing is usually mild, and should only last the first few days.

Corneal collagen cross-linking is an exciting new development in keratoconus treatment that could potentially save your sight, especially if you are treated early on. Even those who are treated later on may find that it halts the development of their condition, preventing the need for a corneal transplant.

Alternative treatments for keratoconus

Every patient is different, and your ophthalmologist will always recommend the appropriate keratoconus treatment for you. This could include glasses, contacts, corneal implants or corneal transplant surgery.

Corneal implants

Intacs and Kerarings are tiny, transparent, semi-circular, plastic implants. They are placed within your cornea to make its shape more normal. Corneal implants are designed to make it more comfortable to wear hard contact lenses, but they may even improve your vision to the point where you can use soft contacts or glasses instead.

Keraring Implants
Intacs (on finger)

Corneal transplants

In a corneal transplant operation, the surgeon will replace all or part of your damaged cornea (the clear front surface of your eye) with healthy donor corneal tissue. A corneal transplant (also called cornea grafting or keratoplasty) is usually done to help restore your vision, but can be done for comfort or appearance too.

If you need a corneal transplant, choose the latest techniques and high quality care on offer at Eye Institute's dedicated eye surgery clinic.

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