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How Collagen Cross-Linking Can Treat Your Keratoconus

How Collagen Cross-Linking Can Treat Your Keratoconus

You’re having vision problems, and it seems that your eyesight has grown worse almost overnight. You’re experiencing blurry and/or cloudy vision. What’s happening? 

You may have a condition called keratoconus, which makes your cornea, the clear coating over your eye, start to bulge out and begin to take on the shape of a cone. The disease is progressive and impairs your ability to see clearly if left untreated. You have just one pair of eyes, and you don’t want to lose your vision! 

Ophthalmologists are the experts to see if you have medical or surgical eye needs. Board-certified ophthalmologist Stephen Khachikian offers the most advanced eye care available in and around Rapid City, South Dakota, and some patients come from other states. 

Learn more about keratoconus and how collagen cross-linking can help you retain your vision. 

Understanding keratoconus

Your cornea, the clear coating over your eye, has a gently curved shape. What holds this shape in place as you dance, play football, and live your life? 

Your eye holds small fibers made of collagen, an important protein found just about everywhere in your body — your tendons, muscles, bones, and even your eyes. These fibers are small but strong; they’re the stabilizers and shock absorbers that keep your cornea in place.  

Keratoconus weakens and thins the collagen fibers, causing your cornea to bulge outward into an abnormal position. This irregularity affects the way light refracts (bends) off the cornea and lens of your eye and skews the shape of the images you see.

Sometimes keratoconus can lead to a sudden worsening of vision when the inner lining of the cornea breaks down, causing abnormal fluid levels in the tissue (hydrops), which may result in corneal scarring.

Why do I have keratoconus?

There’s likely a genetic link to this eye condition. If a family member has it, you’re more likely to have it. It’s also associated with genetic tissue disorders such as Marfan's syndrome. Researchers still don’t know all of the possible etiologies of the condition.  

Symptoms of keratoconus

Following are common symptoms of keratoconus. Be sure to make an eye appointment with Dr. Khachikian if you experience any of these problems. 

Glasses or contact lenses may correct your vision adequately early in the disease, but a corneal transplant may be required once the condition advances. 

Collagen cross-linking treatment for keratoconus

Collagen cross-linking for keratoconus doesn’t involve surgery. We perform this procedure in the office. It’s most effective when you’ve been diagnosed at an early stage of the disease before there is noticeable vision loss. 

An advantage of the treatment is that if it’s done in time, it not only stabilizes the disease but also halts its advance and may even improve your eyesight

Dr. Khachikian places riboflavin (vitamin B2) eyedrops on your cornea followed by UV light exposure for up to 30 minutes. This strengthens the collagen crosslinks that help the corneal tissue hold its current shape, thus reducing the risk of progressive vision loss by stabilizing the cornea.

Don’t worry if you still have blurred vision in the weeks immediately following the procedure. You’ll see improvement in your vision over several months as the collagen cross-linking takes effect.  

Cross-linking is painless, and the results generally last for many years, potentially all of your life. The key, though, is undergoing treatment before the condition advances beyond when it can be corrected.  

For more information regarding cross-linking and the other treatments we offer for keratoconus, call or book an appointment online with Dr. Stephen Khachikian today.

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