One of the treatments to slow down progression of Keratoconus is corneal cross-linking. First, let's take a look at what keratoconus is. 

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease of the cornea, which is the front part of your eye. When you have keratoconus your cornea is going to get progressively thinner over time resulting in your cornea to start to protrude outward and bulge out into a cone like shape, resulting in an irregular corneal surface.

Normally our cornea is round and smooth and has an irregular surface, but keratoconus  results in irregular shape of the front surface of your eye, which can lead to an irregular astigmatism and scarring of the cornea, which can then also lead to a whole host of symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms of Keratoconus?

Following are the common symptoms you might experience with keratoconus:

  • Blurring in your vision
  • Distortions in your vision
  • Seeing shadows around letters and objects
  • Increased sensitivity to light and glare
  • Eye redness and pain
  • Eye swelling

If you notice any of these symptoms or experience sudden changes in your vision and find it difficult for you to perform your daily activities, please schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor that specializes in keratoconus.

How Does Keratoconus Develop?

When it comes to the causes of keratoconus, the exact mechanism of action is complex, but it is believed to have a genetic component associated with it. And it is also believed to be due to the enzymatic breakdown of the collagen structures found within your cornea resulting in your cornea to then get progressively thinner over time. 

What is Corneal Cross-Linking?

A possible treatment option for keratoconus and slowing down the progression of keratoconus is corneal cross-linking.

Corneal cross-linking is performed to strengthen your cornea's collagen fibres. It helps to activate the cells on your eye's surface and boost their strength, helping to slow down and prevent further corneal deterioration, possibly reducing your chances of eventually needing a corneal transplant. 

The purpose of corneal collagen cross-linking is to prevent keratoconus from getting worse. In this process, the eye surgeon applies riboflavin vitamin B2 eye drops to the cornea, then shines a UV light directly on it. It contains a substance that facilitates photo enhancement, which allows crosslinking to occur. Now that these new collagen crosslinks are developing, they cause collagen fibres to shorten and then thicken, which stiffens the collagen, allowing the cornea to become stronger and thereby slow down the progression of keratoconus. 

This procedure is typically performed using a mild sedative and numbing eye drops, and you won't be awake during the procedure. You don't experience much discomfort during the procedure. And typically, this procedure takes about one hour, and some post-op symptoms include sensitivity to light, minor discomfort, and fatigue. 

Improving Poor Vision and Discomfort from keratoconus

At Amplify EyeCare, we often see patients after they have had corneal collagen cross linking who are looking for improvements in their visual function or reduction in symptoms such as pain or irritation that is caused by keratoconus. Since corneal cross linking does not improve vision or reduce symptoms that are already present, we often look at advanced contact lenses that are custom made and create a new optical surface. These lenses, called Scleral Lenses, have been shown to be extremely effective at drastically improving vision and improving comfort and reducing pain from keratoconus. We use advanced technology to measure and fit these lenses, then see the patient for multiple visits to ensure that they achieve the best vision and comfort.

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