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Minimally Invasive Corneal Cross-Linking Can Help Treat Thinning Corneas

Dr. Laurence T.D. Sperber has 20 years of ophthalmic experience, and he has helped patients return to the enjoyment of their professional and personal lifestyles with advanced treatment options tailored to their needs. For patients with keratoconus or other disorders that weaken the cornea, our office in New York, NY, can provide corneal cross-linking. Corneal cross-linking, or CXL, can strengthen the cornea by increasing the collagen bonds that make up the tissue. With the help of liquid riboflavin and ultraviolet (UV) light, CXL can protect your cornea from further thinning and bulging and dramatically improve your vision.

Causes of Corneal Concerns

Corneal damage can occur as a result of keratoconus, Fuch's dystrophy, eye infection, injury, or damage from aggressive LASIK surgery resulting in corneal ectasia. In order to function properly, your cornea should be clear, smooth, and healthy. Damage or scarring to the surface of your cornea can prevent light from properly entering your eye and result in blurred vision or an uncomfortable glare. While aggressive cases of corneal damage could require a corneal transplant, Dr. Sperber may recommend CXL as a minimally invasive, first step to strengthening your cornea and restoring normal, healthy function.

How Does Corneal Cross-Linking Work?

While corneal transplantation is a more advanced option for the correction of corneal disorders, collagen cross-linking is a beneficial option for treatment because it is minimally invasive and can be done in our office without surgery. Healthy corneas maintain their rounded shape thanks to healthy collagen fibers. When you develop keratoconus or other corneal disorders, the healthy collagen fibers that keep the shape of the cornea intact are broken down. This causes the tissue to weaken and bulge outward. By creating new collagen cross-links in the cornea, CXL can thicken the fibers that bond the corneal tissue together and lead to a more stiff cornea.

The effects of corneal cross-linking are noticeable about one month after the procedure, with most patients achieving their optimal results in the six months following treatment.

Dr. Sperber will use riboflavin (vitamin B2) eye drops and UV light to promote collagen links and help your cornea return to good health. A study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information determined that corneal CXL was a safe and efficient procedure for stopping the progression of keratoconus and reducing the curvature of the cornea.

Before and after corneal cross-linking

What to Expect during CXL

Dr. Sperber can perform cross-linking at our office in a period of about two hours. Prior to beginning the procedure, Dr. Sperber will apply anesthetic eye drops to help you remain comfortable throughout the treatment. To maximize the effectiveness of the riboflavin eye drops, Dr. Sperber will gently remove a conservative amount of cells on the surface of the cornea. He will then apply the riboflavin drops to strengthen the collagen bond and protect your eyes from the UV light, which you will look at for approximately 10 minutes. The UV light will increase the formation of the bonds. Rather than receiving stitches, Dr. Sperber will place a bandage-like contact lens in your eye for the next few days and prescribe antibiotic drops to help you achieve a healthy recovery. The effects of corneal cross-linking are noticeable about one month after the procedure, with most patients achieving their optimal results in the six months following treatment.

Schedule Your Consultation

If your cornea is damaged as a result of keratoconus or excessively aggressive refractive eye surgery, Dr. Sperber can help you restore health and function to your eyes. To find out whether you are a good candidate for this minimally invasive treatment option, call our office at (212) 753-8300 or contact us online today to schedule your consultation.