Keratoconus impacts about one in a thousand people, worsening their vision over time. The younger you are when you develop this corneal condition, the quicker it will progress, which is why early diagnosis and treatment are critical. More than a decade of research shows corneal collagen cross-linking can slow the progression of keratoconus and improve your quality of life.
If you’ve been diagnosed with keratoconus or are experiencing vision changes, contact Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates in Boston for an eye exam as soon as possible.
What is Keratoconus?
The transparent tissue at the front of your eye is called the cornea. Crisp eyesight relies on a round-shaped cornea to refract light correctly onto the retina at the back of your eye. Keratoconus causes the cornea to thin and weaken. It loses shape, morphing into a cone-like bulge that distorts your vision and decreasing your visual acuity. Fortunately, corneal cross-linking has helped thousands of people halt keratoconus progression.
How Collagen Cross-Linking Prevents Keratoconus Progression
Collagen cross-linking treatments strengthen the collagen proteins and corneal fibers in your eye to decrease the steepness of the cone-like shape. In this revolutionary treatment, riboflavin drops (vitamin B2) are combined with UV light. Vitamin B2 enhances the effects of cross-linking and protects the other parts of your eye from UV exposure. Corneal collagen cross-linking can prevent keratoconus from progressing and strengthen the cornea for better vision. Patients as young as 14 can undergo this short procedure, which takes approximately an hour.
What the Research Says About Corneal Cross-Linking
An article in the June 2021 Scientific Reports evaluated the quality of life in 100 keratoconus patients with mild (15 percent), moderate (46 percent) and severe (39 percent) disease progression. They found that those with a history of cross-linking treatment had significantly lower scores overall, indicating a much better quality of life than other patients.
Corneal collagen cross-linking has been a game-changing treatment option for a condition that otherwise had few outlets. Previously, various contact lenses, glasses and corneal transplants were the main treatments for keratoconus. Keratoconus was once the leading cause of corneal transplants. According to a November 2020 review in the Journal of Ophthalmology, the rate of corneal transplants for keratoconus decreased 25 percent in the first three years after cross-linking was introduced.
This treatment has given thousands of patients a better quality of life, allowing them to reduce their dependence on corrective eyewear, maintain their vision and avoid invasive transplantation. Additionally, corneal cross-linking is more cost-effective than transplantation and carries fewer risks. There are also benefits to combining corneal cross-linking with laser eye surgery such as PRK.
Age is a major factor in keratoconus as the earlier you develop the condition, the more rapidly and severely it will affect your vision. Research suggests the earlier cross-linking is used in pediatric patients, the better their chances of maintaining stable eyesight. Young patients don’t respond as well to corneal transplants.
The current generation of keratoconus patients may enjoy a happier, more fulfilled life without the limitations that faced those who came before them.
Contact Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates About Keratoconus
Schedule your eye exam with Dr. Kornmehl in Boston today to see if corneal cross-linking is the best way to manage your keratoconus.