Saturday, September 18, 2010

News - Hope for Keratoconus Patients

For the last 10 years, researchers have been studying a relatively new procedure for the treatment and possible prevention of keratoconus. Collagen Cross-Linking, or CXL, can strengthen weakened corneas, and prevent further deterioration which can lead to keratoconus.

Our corneas, the clear, outer lens of the eye which is responsible for focusing light into the eye, are made up of multiple layers of a protein called collagen. In between the layers of collagen are cross links which add strength to the cornea, like the support beams of a building. For largely unknown reasons, these cross links sometimes begin to break down, causing the cornea to become thinner and weaker. When this happens, the cornea may begin to bulge outward, causing a deterioration in vision. This condition is called keratoconus.

In the early stages of keratoconus, simple corrective lenses can often correct vision, but as the condition progresses, special contac lenses may be required, and in severe cases a cornea transplant may be necessary. In a 10 year study of CXL, researchers found that the procedure stopped further deterioration of the cornea in 95% of cases, and actually improved visionn 60-80% of the time.

The CXL procedure is very simple. The patient receives an eye drop containing the vitamin B2, or Riboflavin, and then simply lays back and looks into an ultraviolet light for about 30 minutes. The UV light is a very mild dose, less than you might get on an afternoon walk, and is what activates the riboflavin, which in turn adds new cross links to the cornea, making it stronger and preventing further vision loss. This is all done in the doctor’s office on an out-patient basis.

CXL is not a cure for keratoconus, but when applied in the early stages it can stop the progression of the condition before it reaches a critical stage. CXL can be performed on virtually anyone over the age of twelve, and can even be performed on patients who have already had transplants, if the transplanted cornea begins to develop keratoconus. In rare cases where the CXL is not effective, a cornea transplant can still be performed. The CXL procedure can be repeated if necessary, but research indicates that a single treatment may have permanent results, unlike transplants wich typically last 10 to 20 years.

This is exciting news for the future of keratoconus patients. Modern medical science is doing some pretty amazing things, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Special thanks to Joni for bringing this to my attention.


  1. FINALLY! A Thank you to me, me, me! lol
    Kidding babe!
    Like I said WE are in this together and WE need to get you seeing again!!!!
    But then again, maybe you don't want to see me again. lol :*

  2. can you get disbility if you have advanced kertaconus in one or both eyes?

  3. If you are legally blind you can get disability. I think it has to be both eyes but I can't remember for sure. Call social security and they'll send you to a doctor for an examination.