Corneal Collagen Crosslinking (CXL)

What Is Corneal Collagen Crosslinking?

Corneal collagen crosslinking is a relatively comfortable, parasurgical treatment for keratoconus that involves combining riboflavin eye drops with ultraviolet light to induce the crosslinking of corneal collagen. The treatment can slow or stop the progression of keratoconus and delay or even eliminate the need for corneal transplant surgery.

How Is the Crosslinking Procedure Performed?

Before starting a crosslinking procedure, we give the patients a mild sedative to help them remain comfortable throughout the treatment. We also use anesthetic eye drops to numb the eyes. The procedure begins by removing the corneal epithelium (the cornea’s protective covering) to maximize the penetration of the riboflavin eye drops into the stroma.

During the procedure, the doctor applies riboflavin eye drops to the cornea several times for a period of about 30 minutes. The cornea is then irradiated with an advanced form of ultraviolet light for a period of 5 to 30 minutes. The UV light activates the riboflavin solution, causing adjacent strands of collagen to form new bonds in the cornea’s stromal layer. These collagen bonds make the cornea stronger.

Are You a Candidate for Crosslinking?

Many of the women and men at our Oklahoma City center are good crosslinking candidates. Patients who are appropriate candidates for crosslinking:

  • Have been diagnosed with worsening keratoconus or ectasia
  • Do not have corneal scarring
  • Do not have too thin or too steep or flat corneas
  • Are not pregnant or breastfeeding

Corneal Collagen Crosslinking FAQs

Is crosslinking a cure for keratoconus or ectasia?

Currently, there is no cure for keratoconus or ectasia. Crosslinking slows or halts the progression of the disease to prevent the cornea from becoming more irregular. Patients often use various options for improving vision after crosslinking, such as contact lenses or implanted devices called Intacs®.

How long do the crosslinking results last?

Based on studies that tracked results for more than a decade, it appears that the crosslinking strengthening effects may be permanent. In rare situations, the procedure can be repeated if advised by your physician.

How long does the crosslinking procedure take to perform?

The procedure normally takes 45 minutes and you will be in the center for approximately 2 hours on the day of your procedure.

Is crosslinking approved by the FDA?

Yes, the FDA approved a specific type of corneal collagen crosslinking in April 2016. It has been widely used outside of the United States since 2007 and was used in the U.S. before getting approval from the FDA.

If you’ve been diagnosed with keratoconus or ectasia and want to learn more about corneal collagen crosslinking at our OKC practice, request a free consultation using the online form or call us at (405) 842-6060 to schedule an appointment.

*Corneal Collagen Crosslinking is frequently performed worldwide and is FDA approved in the United States when performed with specific equipment and medication. There are also several clinical studies underway in the U.S.


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