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Corneal Cross-Linking For Keratoconus

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What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus, often referred to as ‘KC’, is an eye condition in which the cornea weakens and thins over time, causing the development of a clear, cone-like bulge on the front surface of your eye. Keratoconus can result in blurred vision, sensitivity to light and glare or significant visual loss and may lead to corneal transplant if left untreated. Keratoconus can impact one or both eyes and symptoms may differ in each or change over time.

Who’s Affected by Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is estimated to occur in 1 out of every 2,000 persons in the US. Early detection is key in preventing Keratoconus from progressing. The first signs and symptoms usually appear in the late teens or early twenties but may also present at a slower rate in those in their thirties.

It can also affect those older than forty but is less common. While the exact cause of Keratoconus is unknown, factors such as genetics, inflammation caused by one’s environment or disease, as well as certain systemic conditions like Down Syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome can all play a role.

Who’s Affected By Keratoconus
Signs & Symptoms Of Keratoconus

Signs & Symptoms of Keratoconus

During the early stages of Keratoconus, an individual may experience any of the following:

  • Mildly blurred vision.
  • An excessive need to rub the eyes.
  • Slightly distorted vision. Straight lines may appear bent.
  • Redness or swelling of the eye.

During the later stages of Keratoconus, an individual may experience:

Issues with night vision due to increased light sensitivity and glare.

Increased changes in prescription.

Frequent headaches

Vision that cannot be corrected with glasses.

A sudden worsening or clouding of one’s vision.

Bright lights look to have halos around them.

You may experience double vision when looking with one eye.

Objects near and far are both blurry.

Not being able to wear contact lenses. They will feel uncomfortable or no longer fit you well.

Keratoconus can take years from early onset to late stage. However, in some individuals, Keratoconus can come on quickly, scaring the cornea and making vision grow distorted and blurry quickly.

stages of Keratoconus
What Is Corneal Cross Linking

What is Corneal Cross-Linking?

Cross-linking is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure for the treatment of progressive Keratoconus. FDA-approved epi-off cross-linking combines the use of prescription eye drops, Photrexa® Viscous, Photrexa®, and ultraviolet A (UVA) light from the KXL® system to create new collagen bonds between the fibers which work like support beams to stabilize the cornea.

The goal of the procedure is to stiffen the cornea with additional support structures as a way to slow down or prevent the progression of Keratoconus. Corneal cross-linking may help you preserve your vision and avoid a corneal transplant.

What Can I Expect During the Corneal Cross-Linking Procedure?

  • After numbing drops are applied, the epithelium (the thin layer on the surface of the cornea) is gently removed.

  • Photrexa® Viscous eye drops will be applied to the cornea. This will help the cornea better absorb light. It takes at least 30 minutes for them to soak in properly. Depending on the thickness of your cornea, Photrexa® drops may also be required.
  • The cornea is then exposed to UV light for 30 minutes while additional Photrexa Viscous drops are applied.

The procedure will take anywhere from 60-90-minutes.

What Can I Expect During The Corneal Cross-Linking-Procedure
Is Cross Linking Covered By Insurance

Is Cross-Linking Covered by Insurance?

Insurance coverage for FDA-approved cross-linking is now widely available as more commercial insurance carriers are recognizing the medical necessity of the procedure.

To view the latest list of insurers that have policies for cross-linking or to find out more information about the insurance coverage required, visit the insurance information page on Living with Keratoconus.

What Can I Expect After the Procedure?

During the first 5 days after the procedure, do not rub your eyes.

You may notice sensitivity to light. Sunglasses can help with light sensitivity.

You may feel like you have something in your eye or experience discomfort in the treated eye. Medication can be provided for discomfort.

Your eyesight is going to be blurry at first and there will be changes in your vision during the healing process. You may need new glasses or contacts after the treated eye is healed.

Corneal Cross-Linking For Keratoconus-beforeCorneal Cross-Linking For Keratoconus-after

Cross-Linking Keratoconus Technology

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Sometimes you just need a little extra support. Get your eyes back in shape with cross-linking.