Keratoconus Patient Education

Corneal Crosslinking (CXL)

Corneal Collagen Crosslinking* is a relatively pain-free parasurgical treatment for keratoconus that involves the application of riboflavin eye drops to the eye.

Crosslinking is performed to slow or stop the progression of Keratoconus and/or ectasia and to postpone or eliminate the need for corneal transplant.

Prior to the procedure, the patient is given a mild sedative to keep comfortable, and anesthetic eye drops are applied. The corneal epithelium is then removed to increase penetration of riboflavin into the stroma.

Crosslinking is performed to slow or stop Keratoconus and/or ectasia and to postpone or eliminate the need for corneal transplant.

During the procedure, riboflavin eye drops are applied to the cornea several times for a period of about 30 minutes. The cornea is then irradiated with an advanced form of ultra-violet light for a period of 5 to 30 minutes. The UV light activates the riboflavin solution causing adjacent strands of collagen to form new bonds in the cornea’s stromal layer. These collagen bonds make the cornea stronger.

Patients that are good candidates for crosslinking:

  • Have been diagnosed with worsening Keratoconus or ectasia
  • Do not have corneal scarring
  • Do not have too thin or too steep/flat corneas

*Corneal collagen cross-linking is frequently performed worldwide, but is not FDA approved in the United States. There are several clinical trials underway in the U.S.