The cornea is the clear, front and central portion of the eye, like the “window” into the eye. It is composed mostly of water and protein fibers called collagen. Collagen makes the cornea strong and helps keep its round, regular shape. A healthy cornea focuses light into the eye so that you can see clearly.
In certain patients the cornea can be weak. Overtime, these corneas become thin and can bulge forward into an irregular, cone-like shape. The medical term for this is corneal ectasia, and it can be caused by a genetic condition known as keratoconus, but also as a rare consequence of undergoing laser vision correction surgery (post-LASIK ectasia). As the cornea becomes thin and distorted, vision can become quite blurry – which is known as astigmatism. Early on this blurry vision can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, but if the corneal shape becomes highly distorted then a major surgery known as a corneal transplant may be the only way for patients to see clearly.
In-office corneal collagen cross-linking is designed to strengthen the cornea, preventing further deterioration by worsening corneal bulging. Earlier intervention is important for best results. While in some patients, the corneal shape and vision can improve as a result of cross-linking, this cannot be guaranteed. Our goal is to keep you seeing well with glasses or contact lenses and to prevent your corneal condition from progressing to the point where you will need a corneal transplant. Some patients who are not initially candidates for PRK (laser vision correction) may actually be eligible after undergoing cross-linking first.
The FDA-Approved Procedure
At InVision Eye Care, we are the first and only providers in Ocean County to perform the only FDA-approved corneal collagen cross-linking procedure.
Not all collagen cross-linking procedures follow the same protocol or use the same devices. Only the iLink KXL System – which gained FDA approval in 2016 – has been rigorously tested, studied in controlled clinical trials, and proven to be safe and effective. Furthermore, it is the only cross-linking procedure which is eligible for coverage by your medical insurance plan.
There are 3 steps to the procedure:
- We will numb your eye with drops and then gently remove the surface layer of the cornea (known as the corneal epithelium)
- We will apply a special vitamin eye drop (riboflavin) onto your eye every 2 minutes over 30 minutes. We will then confirm that the drop has properly absorbed into the eye before proceeding with the next step.
- We will shine a special ultra-violet (UV) light on your eye for another 30 minutes while continuing to apply the drops. The vitamin eye drops and UV light work together to make strong collagen bonds in the cornea. The cornea becomes stiffer and usually stops bulging out.
Dr. Ragam performing in office cross-linking
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with keratoconus, please make an appointment for an evaluation with our corneal specialist, Dr. Ragam, to see if corneal collagen cross-linking is the appropriate next step.