Keratoconus Treatments Offer Relief

Surgical treatments are available for keratoconus: Corneal collagen cross linking, Intrastromal corneal ring segments (INTACS®), corneal transplantation with a Femtosecond laser, and partial thickness cornea transplants (DALK – Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty).

Cross linking increases the number of collagen bonds in the cornea to add strength and keep its shape.

Collagen Crosslinking (CXL or KXL)

Corneal Collagen Crosslinking (CXL or KXL) is a technique that uses advanced technology to treat patients with keratoconus, pellucid marginal degeneration and post LASIK ectasia. The two crosslinking procedures (KXL and CXL) use the B vitamin riboflavin and ultraviolet light to strengthen the stromal layer of collagen in the cornea. Collagen crosslinking can prevent the need for a corneal transplant.

NWES has been offering crosslinking since 2012.  KXL is FDA approved. First, the eye is numbed, then some of the top layer of the cornea is removed and the riboflavin is administered. Then the UV light is applied to activate the riboflavin. A bandage contact lens is used after the procedure is completed so the top layer of the cornea can heal. CXL is not FDA approved at this time. The top layer of the cornea remains intact for this procedure. The cornea is saturated with the riboflavin, then the UV light is applied. Below is a video of the CXL procedure.

INTACS® plastic rings

With the INTACS® procedure, two tunnels are made in the middle layer of the cornea (stroma) and two C-shaped plastic ring segments are inserted. This is a painless, 10-15 minute procedure.

The rings reshape the cornea, which helps restore the cornea to a more normal shape. This, in turn, helps to improve the vision with glasses and/or contact lenses.

Cornea transplant

When there is advanced keratoconus, with extreme cornea thinning and/or corneal scarring, a corneal transplant may be the only treatment option.

At Northwest Eye Surgeons, we use a Femtosecond laser for cornea transplantation. The Femtosecond laser keratoplasty allows for a more exact tissue fit and usually allows for faster healing and faster visual recovery. Northwest Eye Surgeons is the first in Washington state to provide this laser technology for corneal transplantation. We offer full thickness and some partial thickness cornea transplants with this laser.                          

If you have keratoconus, you should keep regularly scheduled appointments with your eye doctor to monitor the health of your corneas.

Keratoconus Support Group: National Keratoconus Foundation