The Atlanta Vision Clinic is excited to introduce an innovative, new approach to treating patients who have distorted vision from a condition known as corneal ectasia. This new treatment is called corneal cross-linking (CXL) or collagen cross-linking.
“This is the newest advancement in LASIK surgery and technology,” says Farooq Ashraf, MD, FACS, medical director of the Atlanta Vision Clinic. “We’re one of the first LASIK surgery centers in Dubai to have this cutting-edge system, and we’re excited about providing our patients this progressive method for treating and preventing eyesight problems.”
Corneal ectasia is actually the name for a general class of corneal diseases, of which there are several types. The most common type is called keratoconus. This is a condition in which the cornea (the clear outer layers of the eye) progressively thins, causing a cone-like bulge to develop, leading to blurry vision and high levels astigmatism and myopia. Keratoconus usually starts during a person’s teen years and worsens through young adulthood. A second type of corneal ectasia is known as post-refractive ectasia, and this is a result of complications from refractive eye surgery such as LASIK or PRK. With both conditions, the cornea can continue to bulge over time, leading to gradually worsening vision.
There is no cure for corneal ectasia, but corneal cross-linking can slow the progression of the condition and prevent further deterioration of the patient’s vision. Corneal cross-linking works by strengthening the collagen bonds in the stroma (the middle and thickest layer of the cornea), which stops the thinning process and prevents further vision loss.
Up until the development of corneal cross-linking, the only methods of vision correction for patients with keratoconus was eyeglasses, contacts and corneal implants. “This new technology allows patients the opportunity to improve their vision without uncomfortable contact lenses or invasive surgeries like corneal transplants,” says Dr. Ashraf. “If performed early enough, cross-linking can actually arrest progression of keratoconus and allow good vision to be preserved, preventing or significantly delaying the need for a corneal transplant surgery.”
It is important to understand that while corneal cross-linking can stop the progression of keratoconus in the vast majority of patients, it does not return the cornea to its former shape before developing the disease, and it may not completely eliminate the need for glasses or contacts.
How is cross-linking done?
Corneal cross-linking is a minimally-invasive procedure, performed in-office under topical anesthesia. The procedure itself is relatively simple. First, the upper-most layer of the cornea (called the epithelium) is gently removed to allow for absorption of the photosensitizing agent. Next, riboflavin (vitamin B2) eye drops are applied to the cornea, followed by exposure of the cornea to ultraviolet light for a short time. This results in a chemical reaction that creates new collagen bonds (cross-links) throughout the cornea, thereby strengthening the cornea’s structural integrity.
The entire process takes around an hour if just one eye is treated, and about an hour and a half if both eyes are treated. It is a relatively pain-free procedure, requiring no injections, stitches or incisions. There may, however, be some mild discomfort for one or two days following the procedure.
Are you a candidate?
Many people who undergo LASIK surgery, decide to be “pre-treated” with corneal cross-linking to strengthen the eye’s surface, before undergoing an excimer laser ablation that reshapes the cornea. This treatment is also available to people who have already had LASIK surgery, or who suffer from any of the following conditions:
· Corneal ectasia.
· Post-refractive ectasia.
· Pellucid marginal degeneration.
· Corneal ulcers.
· Corneal infections.
Not everyone who has one of the above conditions is automatically a good candidate for corneal cross-linking. The procedure appears to work best on patients with mild-to-moderate keratoconus, who have good vision in their current glasses or contacts, and are in good overall health. People with corneal scarring, or who have thin, steep or flat corneas, may not be eligible for cross-linking.
Want to learn more?
If you are interested in corneal cross-linking and would like to find out if it’s a good option for you, contact our staff at the Atlanta Vision Clinic to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ashraf. During your consultation, Dr. Ashraf will advise you on whether or not you’re a good candidate for corneal cross-linking, as well as devise a personalized treatment plan designed to achieve the clear vision you’ve always wanted.
To book your appointment, please call our clinic at 917-04-348-6233. Don’t wait for your vision problems to worsen. Call the Atlanta Vision Clinic today!
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