Corneal Collagen Cross Linking In Washington, D.C.
There’s a new treatment in town, and it could very well help with your Keratoconus symptoms. But first, let’s talk about what Keratoconus is and how it can affect your daily activities.
What Is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus (keh-rah-toe-cone-us) is an eye disorder in which the round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins causing a cone-like bulge to develop. This cone-shaped cornea causes light to be refracted incorrectly, resulting in blurred vision, rendering everyday activities, such as reading and driving, a struggle.
Collagen Isn’t Only For Lip Enhancement
Most people know about collagen's use in cosmetic surgery, such as making the lips appear fuller. What many don’t know is that it’s a protein developed inside the human body and can be found in the skin, muscles, and various ligaments.
The cornea of the eye also contains collagen. It is made up of tiny collagen fibers that lie in an intertwined fashion, ensuring that the cornea remains clear. As mentioned above, Collagen Cross-Linking can be used to treat Keratoconus to improve vision. The procedure is called ‘cross linking’ due to the placement of bonds in between the collagen fibers. These bonds provide support to stabilize the cornea.
The Collagen Cross-Linking Procedure
When a patient is determined to be a good candidate for Collagen Cross-Linking, an ophthalmologist will perform the minimally invasive procedure, which typically lasts between 30-60 minutes. The CXL procedure is done in office, so there is no need for a hospital visit.
First, the doctor will numb the eye, so the patient shouldn’t feel any pain during the process. Then, eye drops containing riboflavin (vitamin B2) will be administered. These drops let the cornea absorb light and prepare the eye for the UV light application. The patent sits in a reclining position and looks at the UV light for approximately 30 minutes. The UV light causes an oxygen reaction, which then develops new bonds in between the collagen fibers.
There are actually two types of CXL procedures. One is called Epithelium-off, and the other is called Epithelium-on. The difference between them has to do with the epithelium, also called “epi”, which is a tissue located on the outside layer of the cornea.
During the Epi-off procedure, the epi is gently removed. This lets the riboflavin drops to be absorbed into the eye more efficiently.
During the Epi-on procedure, the epi stays in place. It is not removed at all. However, it can take more time for absorption of the riboflavin drops.
Discuss with Dr. Michael Rosenblatt to determine which version of the CXL treatment is right for your condition. Each one has its benefits and risks in terms of procedure and recovery time.
What Are The Advantages Of Scleral Lenses? It’s All In The Shape!
Scleral Lenses Are More Wearable And Protect Your Eyes Better
Custom designed scleral lenses help patients with corneal irregularities achieve dramatic improvements in visual acuity and comfort. Scleral lenses vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera while avoiding the diseased cornea. This creates a new optical surface instead of the damaged cornea and prevents discomfort by resting on the sclera of the eye. Moreover, the reservoir of pure saline solution between the back surface of the lens and the front of the cornea ensures that the eye is always in a liquid environment - making it optimal for healing.
Both rigid gas permeable (GP) lenses and scleral lenses provide the eyes with sufficient oxygen. However, scleral lenses provide more comfort and stable vision than traditional GP lenses. In most cases, scleral contact lenses are the optimal choice of treatment for patients with keratoconus and irregularly-shaped corneas.
Enjoy Better Vision
Scleral lenses also provide unparalleled visual acuity by shielding the damaged cornea with a perfect optical surface. Its larger design means the lens is firmly in place, which further enhances vision when compared to traditional lenses. Due to their size and shape, scleral lenses provide greater durability, easier handling and a lower risk for complications. If you are interested in scleral lenses, our eye doctor at the The Scleral Lens Center At Washington Eye Doctors can help.
Although radiation caused by UV light can be harmful to one’s health, the amount of UV applied during the CXL procedure does not reach dangerous levels. According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, a wavelength of 360–370 nm with an accumulated irradiance of 5.4 J/cm2 ensures that the exposure of all structures is below harmful levels.
Additionally, the riboflavin eye drops that the patient receives prior to the UV light application serves as a solid wall of protection against any potential radiation effects.
In April 2016, after conducting rigorous testing and reviewing case studies, the FDA approved the CXL procedure as an effective treatment for slowing down the progression of Keratoconus.
Just as with any medical procedure, there are some things you should know beforehand and some preparation you will need to do. On the day of the procedure, avoid wearing any eye makeup, creams, lotions, perfume, or cologne. The ophthalmologist will perform CXL on one eye at a time. It will affect your vision in the first few hours, so make sure someone can drive you home after the procedure.
Recovery time can be different for each patient, and depends on the type of CXL chosen. For the Epi-off procedure, there may be some pain felt over a few days’ time. As the epi heals, the pain will lessen and eventually fade completely. It may take up to a week and a half to resume normal activities. If the Epi-on version was done, then recovery time tends to be quicker and virtually painless.
Most eye doctors recommend not wearing contact lenses in the first few days following Collagen Cross-Linking. Others suggest waiting several weeks, but this is contingent upon the type of CXL performed on the patient.
Remember, Keratoconus is a condition that requires ongoing treatment by a qualified eye doctor. Even after Collagen Cross-Linking has been performed, it’s important that you or a loved one who suffers from this disease find an eye doctor with you are comfortable with and trust to monitor the condition for the long-term.
Are you considering Collagen Cross Linking or would you like to know if it could help your Keratoconus? Speak with Dr. Michael Rosenblatt and the team of helpful staff today.