Corneal cross-linking is an outpatient procedure performed under topical anaesthesia (eye drops) for the treatment of keratoconus. It takes about 30 mins to perform and the down time is about 1 week. The cross-linking procedure is a 2-step process.
Firstly, the corneal epithelium (skin) is removed and then the underlying tissue is soaked with liquid riboflavin (vitamin B2). Following this, UV light is used to treat the eye in a controlled fashion. This procedure causes new bonds to form between the cornea fibres resulting in stabilization and strengthening.
A bandage contact lens is placed on the eye to aid in healing and is usually removed after 1-2 weeks.
Corneal cross-linking, in recent years, has also been combined with Laser Vision Correction techniques resulting in procedures such as SMILE Xxtra and Lasik Xtra. The aim of performing corneal cross-linking with laser vision correction is to reduce the risk of corneal ectasia and refractive regression.