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What is Corneal Cross-Linking?

close up of the cornea of an eye

Do you have abnormally shaped or thinning corneas? Are you wondering what you can do to treat them?

Corneal ectasia is the term used to describe abnormally shaped and thinning corneas. The most advanced way to treat corneal ectasia is with corneal cross-linking.

Keep reading to learn more about corneal-crosslinking and see if it is right for you! 

What is the Cornea, and How Does it Get Misshapen? 

The cornea is the transparent outermost layer of your eye. It plays a prominent role in clear eyesight.

Corneal ectasia can occur on its own, due to other diseases, or as a side effect of other eye treatments. For instance, keratoconus is a type of corneal ectasia. You can also develop post-LASIK corneal ectasia.

When this happens, the cornea is not in its normal shape. Instead, it starts to develop more of a cone shape and become thinner.

How Long Does it Take for the Cornea to Become Misshapen? 

Changes to the shape of the cornea can take anywhere from a few months to years. During this time, you may go through numerous prescription changes.

What Happens if You Don’t Treat Your Corneal Ectasia?

If the changes to your cornea go undiagnosed and untreated, you could experience permanent declines in your vision. When these changes are in later stages, most patients need a cornea transplant.

For this reason, you must have regular eye exams with your eye doctor. That way, they can diagnose corneal ectasia early and treat it, so it doesn’t impact your vision.

What is Corneal Cross-Linking or CXL?

CXL is a procedure performed by your eye doctor in their office. They use Riboflavin drops and ultraviolet light to create more collagen connections in your corneas.

The procedure creates cross-links between collagen fibers already in your cornea. This cross-linking makes your cornea more rigid and prevents future changes from happening.

When you are having CXL, both eyes usually do not get treated at the same time. That’s because the outermost part of your cornea gets removed and temporarily replaced with a contact lens.

This lens helps your eye heal properly and remain comfortable while healing. Your eye doctor will advise you on when the lens can come out.

It can be weeks before you can see clearly again. Until then, your vision might be blurry and changing constantly.

Is CXL a Successful Procedure? 

CXL has a high rate of preventing future vision loss. This is important to keep in mind when you get CXL. That’s because, even though in some cases it can improve your vision, the goal of CXL is to prevent more vision loss.

So, unlike LASIK or PRK, you will need to use your glasses or contacts after the procedure. Many people can tolerate contact lenses a lot better after getting CXL.

Also, unlike LASIK and other procedures, you can get CXL as many times as needed. While most patients only need it once, you can get it again if necessary.

Do you think corneal cross-linking could help your eyes? The first step is meeting with your eye doctor to see if they believe the procedure will help you.

Schedule a consultation at Chicago Cornea Consultants in Chicago, IL, to see if CXL is right for you!

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