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Ultraviolet Corneal Crosslinking

What you need to know

Ultraviolet Corneal Crosslinking

Ultraviolet corneal crosslinking is one of the safest and most effective ways to treat progressive Keratoconus.

Keratoconus is a weakness in the cornea that allows pressure inside the eye to distort the curve of the front of the cornea. This results in increased astigmatism, blurred vision and thinning of the cornea.

Keratoconus generally first affects people ages 10 to 25. It is more common in people with conditions that cause itchy eyes such as hay fever, eczema and allergies. While patients can have a genetic predisposition to the disease it is often random. Eye rubbing is a risk factor for developing keratoconus and its progression. It is also more likely to progress in younger patients.

What to expect from your consultation at Hunter Laser Vision

Your opthamologist will begin with a review of your medical history and a thorough eye exam. They will also take images of your cornea to determine its shape, as well as to measure corneal thickness and intraocular pressure. These tests will confirm if you have keratoconus, and if it is progressing.

After your doctor has examined your cornea and retina they will make a recommendation based on the severity of your keratoconus and how fast it is progressing. If the disease is getting worse or is severe enough, surgery may be recommended. In this case, they will discuss the recommended procedure with you, including any risks. Once you’ve agreed on a treatment plan they will book a date for your surgery.

Keratoconus Treatment

Keratoconus is not curable, but often stabilizes naturally by the early 30s. Glasses or rigid gas permeable contact lenses are generally the first treatment option for patients with mild keratoconus. Patients with moderate keratoconus who are at risk of worsening or who are worsening are often recommended ultraviolet corneal crosslinking. One of the safest and most effective ways to treat keratoconus, crosslinking stiffens the cornea, slowing or stopping the progression of the disease. The procedure involves applying a dye to the cornea followed by an ultraviolet laser. This creates a reaction within the cornea leading collagen fibres to “crosslink” and strengthen the cornea.

UV crosslinking takes about 40 to 60 minutes. Both eyes can be treated at the same time. It is not a painful procedure.

Post-operative UV Crosslinking Care

At Hunter Laser Vision we firmly believe that post-operative care is just as important as the procedure itself. The day after your treatment you’ll need to return to the clinic for a check-up. You will also need to come back two weeks later and again at two months so we can monitor your progress. You may see your local optometrist for some of these post-operative appointments, if you live outside the area.

It’s important to take good care of your eye after keratoconus surgery to help reduce the risk of complications and ensure a good recovery. A bandage contact lens will be placed on the eye and removed after a few days later, once the surface has healed. While most patients resume regular activities in 2 or 3 days, you should avoid heavy lifting and stay out of dirty, dusty environments for two weeks after the surgery. You’ll also need to keep the area dry; showering is fine, but no swimming. Your doctor will let you know when it’s OK to return to driving.

We’ll review your eyes again six months after the procedure. If your surgery is successful you will not require additional treatment. Approximately one third of patients will experience improvement in their vision with UV crosslinking. However, in the rare event the condition continues to progress the treatment can be repeated.
In some cases your doctor may use a combination of crosslinking, kerarings and intraocular lenses to treat the condition. Patients with advanced keratoconus that doesn’t respond to crosslinking or keraring surgery may require a corneal transplant.

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RANZCO - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists - The Leaders in Collaborative Eye Care
ASO - Australian Society of Ophthalmologists

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