Keratoconus and Corneal Cross-Linking
Keratoconus is a rare condition that occurs when the cornea (the transparent, dome-shaped tissue covering the front of the eye) begins to thin with time. As this happens, the cornea starts to bulge outward into a cone shape, causing blurred vision as well as sensitivity to light and glare. Keratoconus can deteriorate vision to a point at which glasses and contacts are no longer viable solutions.
Symptoms of Keratoconus
Symptoms of keratoconus often begin in the late teenage years or early twenties and progress until people are in their 30’s and early 40’s. Common symptoms include:
- Halos and ghost images
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Eye strain, pain, or irritation
- Difficulty driving at night or in low light
It is important to note that the aforementioned symptoms of keratoconus can also be characteristic of other problems relating to the eye. The only way to diagnose keratoconus is through an eye examination.
At TLC Laser Eye Centres, when you come in for a pre-operative consultation, our team of experts will determine whether you’re a good candidate for a keratoconus treatment or another vision correction procedure. Our doctors use the patient’s refraction, keratometry, corneal topography, and slit-lamp examination to screen for keratoconus. Afterward, we will help you create a plan of action for refractive surgery that best suits your needs and desired outcome.
and Corneal Cross-Linking
Previously, the only option for patients with keratoconus that deteriorated to the point at which glasses and contacts could no longer assist them was a corneal transplant. But this is no longer the case.
In addition to corneal transplant surgery, TLC Laser Eye Centres offers another keratoconus treatment option: corneal cross-linking. This procedure works by stemming the progression of keratoconus by stiffening and bonding the fibers in the cornea with the use of ultraviolet light. In other words, it stabilizes and strengthens the cornea by creating new links between the fibres in the cornea.
Corneal cross-linking is an extremely beneficial process
It is the first treatment found to be effective in preventing keratoconus from getting worse. When coupled with Corneal Ring Inserts and laser shaping of the cornea, corneal cross-linking can dramatically improve vision without the need for a corneal transplant.
A two-step process
Vitamin B2 is first applied to the cornea, followed by exposure of the cornea to ultraviolet light for a short time. The light, in turn, activates molecules called free radicals, which work by welding adjacent fibers in the cornea, much like a coiled electrical wire. The procedure takes about one hour. The corneal cross-linking process is similar to the one used in the creation of modern polymers, which are used to make many household plastics. It is also similar to the bonding procedure that dentists use to attach materials to our teeth, such as those used in fillings.
Keratoconus Follow-Up Care
When you decide to book a procedure at TLC Laser Eye Centres, we take care of everything – including the recovery. We will provide one-on-one counselling prior to your surgery so you know what to expect post-procedure. If necessary, we will provide you with necessary eye drops as well as instructions for application to assist in your at-home care.
We will also schedule you for a variety of post-op follow-up appointments to monitor your healing, including a 6-month post-surgery visit. In addition, our surgeons are available on-call 24/7 to answer any questions you may have.