FAQs About Corneal Cross-linking Submitted by Atlanta Vision Cataract and Laser Center on July 2, 2017

What is corneal cross-linking?

Corneal cross-linking (CXL) is an FDA-approved procedure to help strengthen corneal tissue in the eyes.

What does CXL treat?

CXL is a treatment for keratoconus: the progressive thinning of the cornea that causes the eye to protrude into a cone shape. Keratoconus often manifests during teenage and young adult years. The condition can progress over a 10-20 year time period, gradually worsening vision.   

How does CXL work?

The Atlanta keratoconus specialists at Atlanta Vision apply drops of riboflavin ophthalmic solution (a type of vitamin B2) to the eye and then apply specialized ultraviolet A light to the eyes. The process strengthens the collagen cross-links to make the cornea stronger. The drops can be applied directly to the eye (epithelium on) or after a thin amount of corneal tissue has been removed (epithelium off).

Which treatment is better: epithelium on or off?

The answer to this question depends on your unique eye anatomy. The epithelium off treatment may be more effective but the recovery will be slightly longer. A full exam is necessary to make this determination.

Does a CXL treatment hurt?

Most patients do not describe the process as painful. There may be slight discomfort as the eyes heal after the procedure. This discomfort can be managed with prescription eye drops.

How long does a CXL procedure take?

The procedure will take approximately 60-90 minutes to complete. Patients should expect to spend a couple of hours in our office for preparation before the procedure and post-procedure reviews with the doctor.

Is CXL a cure for keratoconus?

No. There is no cure for keratoconus. But the procedure may help slow or halt the progression of the disease so a corneal transplant is not necessary. Results may last for 10 years. Some patients may still need a corneal transplant if the CXL treatment does not provide satisfactory results.

What eye conditions might prevent me from having CXL?

CXL might not be recommended if you have significant scarring on your cornea or are currently pregnant or breastfeeding.

When can I return to normal activities?

Depending on the type of procedure performed and how quickly your eyes heal (especially if the outer surface of the cornea was removed for treatment), you may be able to return to normal activities anywhere between 1-7 days. It is common for vision to become slightly worse for a few months after treatment; over time vision should improve.

To learn more about corneal cross-linking treatments in Atlanta and to get all of your questions answered, contact the team at Atlanta Vision to schedule an eye exam.

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