What is Corneal Cross-Linking and How Does it Help Eye Disease?

Ophthalmologist & LASIK Surgeon Serving Lombard, Naperville, Downers Grove & Nearby Chicago, IL

Posted: May 29, 2019

What is Corneal Cross-Linking and How Does it Help Eye Disease?

Keratoconus is an eye disease that causes the circular nerve connected to your corneas to deteriorate. It is a degenerative disease, so it is important to treat it as soon as possible before it seriously harms your vision.

The traditional treatment for keratoconus involves corneal implants, but Dr. Richard Foulkes is proud to offer a non-surgical, minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that can stop the deterioration and strengthen your corneas. The procedure is called corneal cross-linking, and here's a guide to how it can help you

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus causes your cornea to become thin and bulge into a cone-like shape from its normally circular form. It's caused by a decrease in protective antioxidants in your cornea, which weakens the collagen fibers that hold your cornea in place. It will often develop in your teens or early 20s. The symptoms of keratoconus include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Distorted vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light and glare
  • Eye redness or swelling
  • Contact lenses no longer fitting properly

How Does Corneal Cross-Linking Work?

Corneal cross-linking involves applying riboflavin drops to your eye. The drops strengthen your corneal collagen, prevent it from deteriorating further, and can even reverse some of the damage caused by keratoconus. Here are the steps to the corneal cross-linking procedure:

  • During your consultation, Dr. Foulkes will measure your corneal thickness.
  • During the procedure, you'll be lying down.
  • Foulkes will remove the epithelium, which is the surface layer of your eye.
  • Then, Dr. Foulkes will insert riboflavin drops into your eyes.
  • Foulkes will shine a UV light into your eyes for 30 minutes.
Corneal cross-linking infographic

Am I A Good Corneal Cross-Linking Candidate?

To be a good candidate for corneal cross-linking, you should:

  • Be 8 years of age or older.
  • Be in good overall health.
  • Have keratoconus that hasn't progressed significantly.

Because there are so few requirements to undergo corneal cross-linking, it can be a great alternative to the traditional keratoconus treatment, corneal implants. To get corneal implants, you must:

  • Be at least 21 years old.
  • Have had stable vision for a year or longer.
  • Not be pregnant or breastfeeding.

Because keratoconus can start while you're a teenager, corneal cross-linking allows teenage patients to get treatment immediately, instead of waiting until they're 21. Likewise, pregnant women can undergo corneal cross-linking without having to wait until they've given birth and finished breastfeeding, as they would have to for corneal implants.

Schedule Your Corneal Cross-Linking Treatment in Chicago Today

Dr. Foulkes is one of Chicago's premier ophthalmologists. He is board-certified and has performed tens of thousands of eye procedures during his career. He can help treat your keratoconus before your vision deteriorates significantly. Dr. Foulkes serves Lombard, Naperville, Downers Grove, and nearby areas of Chicago. Call (630) 724-1400 today to set up a consultation.