What is Keratoconus?
Patients who suffer from keratoconus experience a bulging and protrusion of their cornea, as well as corneal thinning and potentially corneal scarring. This ultimately may cause severe visual irregularities and visual blur if left untreated. As the condition progresses, the cornea becomes shaped more like a cone and symptoms worsen. Ultimately, if left untreated keratoconus can have a dramatic effect on one's quality of life and visual function. Keratoconus occurs as a result of genetic and environmental factors. Occasionally, people can also experience corneal weakening (called ectasia) similar to keratoconus after refractive surgery, which results in similar findings and symptoms.
In the past, there was no treatment to halt progression of keratoconus or ectasia. Patients would often rely on rigid contact lenses to improve vision and if their condition became more severe they would require corneal transplantation. Neither contact lenses or corneal transplantation would address the root causes of keratoconus. Cross-linking is a procedure designed to stop the progression of keratoconus and corneal ectasia. This minimally invasive treatment uses a combination of prescription eye drops along with UV light therapy to strengthen or stiffen the cornea. The only FDA approved cross-linking procedure is the iLink procedure performed with the Glaukos KXL device and specific eye drop formulations. The procedure is an outpatient procedure performed at our office by our corneal specialist, Dr. Jonathan Etter, MD. Cross-linking is the first procedure of its kind in that it stops keratoconus and ectasia in its tracks, so that patients can often avoid more invasive corneal surgeries down the line.