Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory disorder that affects the cornea. The cornea becomes thinned and steepened, resulting in distorted vision, sensitivity to light, and decreased vision. Symptoms typically manifest in a person’s younger years, usually the late teens or 20’s.
Custom individual keratoconus treatment plans may depend on a number of factors, including:
- Your age
- Severity of your keratoconus
- Whether your keratoconus is stable or progressive
- hickness of your cornea and other corneal biometrics
Keratoconus Treatment Options
You may have already been told that a surgery or procedure, such as corneal cross-linking (CXL) or corneal implants, is necessary. However, many keratoconus patients need a combination of treatments to experience the ultimate goal of fully restored vision.
Corneal Cross Linking
This procedure (sometimes referred to as corneal collagen cross-linking or CXL) uses riboflavin drops combined with UVA light to strengthen the cornea. The procedure is designed to stop further progression of corneal ectasia (or thinning), which is typically seen in patients with keratoconus and in patients who have had LASIK or RK eye surgery.
There are two forms of CXL: epithelium-off (epi-off) and epithelium-on (epi-on). Epi-off CXL involves removing the corneal epithelium and dropping a formula of riboflavin solution on the cornea for a period of time followed by controlled UVA light exposure. The epi-on procedure uses a different concentration of riboflavin solutions and different exposure time with UVA, and does not involve the removal of the corneal epithelium.
Intacs (Corneal Implants)
Intacs are prescription corneal implants that were previously used as a form of refractive surgery for treating low level myopia and nearsightedness. Recently, this surgical option has been approved for use in treating keratoconus.
These surgically applied plastic implants are inserted just under the eye’s surface in the periphery of the cornea and help re-shape and reinforce the cornea, thereby eliminating some or all of the irregularities caused by keratoconus in order to provide improved vision. The procedure takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.