Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL)

Dr. Cavanaugh is a fellowship-trained corneal surgeon and has extensive experience conducting corneal cross-linking procedures

Keratoconus and post-surgical ectasia are potentially life-altering diseases that affect hundreds of thousands of Americans. Corneal cross-linking is a proven treatment that can halt the progression of keratoconus and other ectatic disorders. Cavanaugh Eye Center is dedicated to providing our patients with this promising, FDA-approved treatment.

What is Keratoconus?

Normal versus Keratoconus eye

Keratoconus is an eye disease that progressively changes the shape of the cornea. Instead of a relatively round shape, keratoconus causes the cornea to become thin and bulge. Over time, the cornea develops a cone shape, causing nearsightedness, irregular astigmatism and a subsequent decline in vision. When these corneal changes occur after an eye procedure, it is called post-surgical ectasia.

The cornea is often called the “window to the eye”— and for good reason. The cornea directs light into the eye, When its shape undergoes changes due to keratoconus, vision is detrimentally affected. Think of it as looking through bubbled glass; the view becomes distorted, and it can become difficult to identify shapes and details.

Without corneal cross-linking treatment, the bulge in the cornea may worsen. Eventually, a cornea transplant may be the only effective solution.

The first signs of keratoconus typically begin in a person’s teens or early 20s, however ectasia can occur at any time, especially those with post-surgical ectasia. Often the vision difficulties that people with keratoconus experience are written off as normal vision problems.

Signs and Symptoms of Keratoconus:

  • Excessive eye rubbing
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Mildly blurred vision
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
  • Vision that cannot be corrected with glasses

At Cavanaugh Eye Center, Dr. Timothy Cavanaugh and Dr. Jared Jaynes are experts at diagnosing and treating keratoconus. They have invested in education and technology to provide patients with safe, proven treatments for keratoconus and post-surgical ectasia, including corneal cross-linking.

Learn more! Contact Cavanaugh Eye Center today!

How Does CXL Work?

Corneal cross-linking is an innovative technique that uses UV light and riboflavin drops (vitamin B2) to build strong bonds between collagen fibers of the cornea. These bonds reinforce and stabilize the weakened area of the cornea.

Corneal cross-linking is the only FDA proven treatment that can halt the progression of keratoconus and post-surgical thinning. Though it does not cure it, it keeps the cornea from developing further irregularity, therefore keeping vision from becoming increasingly worse.

Cross-linking can be done in Cavanaugh Eye Center’s state-of-the-art facility, and it takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes.

Corneal cross-linking laser on eye

To begin, you’ll receive topical anesthetic drops in your eye so that it does not become irritated during the procedure. You may also receive a medication to calm you and allow you to relax through the procedure.

Once the eye drops have taken effect, the outer surface of the cornea, called the epithelium, will be gently and painlessly removed. This will allow the riboflavin drops to penetrate the corneal tissue. Riboflavin drops will be administered every two minutes for a 30 minute period. The doctor will then check your cornea for complete saturation.

Once confirmed, a special UV light will be placed over the cornea. This light combines with the riboflavin to create firm and supportive bonds, strengthening the weakened tissue. During the 30 minute UV treatment, riboflavin drops will continue to be administered every two minutes.

The procedure itself is relatively comfortable. Our doctors and staff will let you know what’s happening during each step and will be on hand to keep you from feeling anxious about the process.

Afterward, a protective contact lens will be placed into your eye. This lens will protect your eye as it heals and will help keep you comfortable. You will also receive prescriptions for antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops to help with the healing process.

What Happens After a Cross-Linking Procedure?

During the first week, you may feel some discomfort as your eye heals. Many people report mild watery eyes, slight burning or light foreign body sensation. These symptoms are normal. Your medications and lubricating tears will significantly ease any discomfort.

Initially, as your cornea heals, your vision may get worse and you may be more light-sensitive than normal for about a month after the procedure. Most patients notice their symptoms return to baseline from one to three months, with complete stabilization thereafter.

Does Corneal Cross-Linking Cure Keratoconus?

Corneal cross-linking does not cure keratoconus / post-surgical ectasia, nor does it repair the damage that the disease has already done. The goal of the procedure is to halt progressive damage and delay or avoid a corneal transplant altogether.

Is Corneal Cross-Linking Safe?

Corneal cross-linking is an FDA medical procedure with documented safety and efficacy data. The procedure was FDA approved in 2016, however, the procedure has been done in other countries for over two decades. Like every medical procedure, there are possible risks. Partnering with an experienced and Corneal Fellowship trained surgeon is one of the most important steps you can take in mitigating risk and eliminating the possibility for unintended outcomes.

Drs. Cavanaugh and Jaynes are experienced and dedicated to properly diagnosing and treating keratoconus and other diseases and disorders of the eye. They will thoroughly assess any health issues that may affect your healing process, such as a history of autoimmune disease or uncontrolled diabetes, and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about the health and future of your vision.

Is corneal cross-linking a solution for you?

Contact Cavanaugh Eye Center today.

Watch the video below to learn more about corneal cross-linking for progressive keratoconus.