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Collagen Cross Linking for Keratoconus

Friday, November 7th, 2014, 9:15 am

Collagen Cross Linking for KeratoconusDr. Nicholas Skouras is dedicated to staying abreast of advancements in his field. One such advancement is collagen cross linking, a sophisticated technique for the treatment of keratoconus. Let’s take a look at what keratoconus is and how cross linking can help.

What Is Keratoconus?

Your eye has a transparent window on the front of it: the cornea. A normal cornea is shaped like a dome. There are collagen fibers (i.e., cross links) in the cornea that are responsible for helping the cornea maintain its rounded shape.

In individuals who have keratoconus, the collagen cross links are not strong enough to help the cornea maintain its rounded shape, and the cornea progressively bulges outward, forming a cone shape. This abnormal shape causes vision problems, including the inability to focus without the use of prescription eyewear, such as contact lenses. As keratoconus progresses, the cone shape makes it increasingly difficult to wear contact lenses. When keratoconus becomes advanced enough, corneal transplant surgery is the only effective treatment option to restore clear vision.

The Goal of Collagen Cross Linking

The good news is that innovative collagen cross-linking treatment can help early-stage keratoconus patients avoid the need for cornea transplant surgery. The goal of collagen cross linking is to strengthen the weakened collagen fibers that are responsible for helping the cornea maintain its dome-like shape, thereby stopping the cornea from bulging outward.

(Note: Collagen cross linking is not a complete cure for keratoconus; individuals will still need to use prescription eyewear after treatment.) Dr. Skouras may perform collagen cross linking alone or in conjunction with other treatment options, such as Intacs corneal implants.

How It Works

With collagen cross-linking treatment, Dr. Skouras saturates the cornea with riboflavin (vitamin B2), through the use of synthetic eye drops. He then uses an ultraviolet light to activate the riboflavin, thereby increasing the number of collagen fibers in the cornea. This, in turn, strengthens the cornea, so it can maintain its dome-like shape.

There are two principal collagen cross-linking treatment approaches: epithelial on and epithelial off. With the former technique, Dr. Skouras leaves the outer surface of the cornea (the epithelium) intact; however, with this approach, it takes longer for the riboflavin to penetrate the cornea.

With the latter technique, the Toronto eye doctor first removes the epithelium before administering the riboflavin eye drops. This allows the liquid vitamin B2 to penetrate the cornea more quickly, but the recovery period is also a bit longer.

Learn More About This Innovative Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with keratoconus — or find it increasingly difficult to wear contact lenses and think you may have keratoconus — contact Dr. Skouras for help. He can examine your eye health and determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for collagen cross-linking treatment. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Skouras to evaluate your vision health, please contact Skouras Eye Centre by calling (416) 590-0445 today.

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Category: General Eye Care, Keratoconus