What is corneal collagen cross-linking?
Corneal collagen cross-linking is a procedure which uses riboflavin drops and ultra-violet light to treat progressive and irregular changes in corneal shape, known as ectasia. The combination of the drops (which contain vitamin B2) and the UV light causes the chemical bonds in the cornea to strengthen and cross-link.
Ectasia is a condition where the shape of the cornea changes and it becomes thinner, often stretching outward and causing myopia and astigmatism. The most common cause of ectasia is keratoconus.
Underneath the corneal surface is a thick layer of collagen, which is a structural protein that is found in skin and other connective tissues. To put it simply, collagen is the protein in the body that holds everything together. This is why plastic surgeons use collagen when trying to make skin look younger – they’re replacing the connective proteins that keep the skin stretched tightly to the body.
Collagen cross-linking is a way to rebond it. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is dripped onto the cornea and then exposed to ultra violet light. The light causes the riboflavin to fluoresce, which leads to the formation of bonds between collagen molecules or simply stated, collagen cross-linking.
There are some possible complications, but they are often transient and treatable and a part of the healing process: Pain in the first 1-2 days, sensitivity to light for several days, haze within the cornea that may cause blurring for up to a few weeks. There are other, less common, possible complications and side effects that your ophthalmologist can discuss with you.
With today’s improved technology, the vast majority of people suffering from Keratoconus and other corneal ectasia may safely undergo cross-linking. However, there are exclusion criteria, so come for a consultation at Fraser Valley Cataract & Laser. Our experienced staff can walk you through the Corneal collagen cross-linking procedure and answer any questions you might have.