Corneal cross-linking is a process used to strengthen the cornea and halt any further progression of the keratoconus.
Regardless of your age if there is any documented progression of keratoconus over time, CXL would be recommended to try to stop any further change.
Detecting Keratoconus at an early age and treatment early usually results in excellent long term visual outcomes. CXL has been designed to provide a treatment option to keratoconus patients and has been developed to stop the progressive nature of this disease. Studies have shown with just one CXL treatment 99% effectiveness to stop progression of keratoconus. If required (1% of the time) a second treatment can be done if any further progression is detected.
The entire procedure is performed with anaesthetic eye drops only. The surface epithelium (surface epithelium layer of the eye is a natural barrier) of the cornea is exfoliated so that riboflavin eye drops (vitamin A) can be absorbed into the corneal cells, one drops is applied every 2 minutes for 20 minutes to ensure enough riboflavin has entered the cornea. A specific source of UV light is then activated over the cornea to crosslink the cornea between 7 to 10 minutes. The entire duration of the procedure is about 45 minutes.
At the end of the procedure a clear soft contact lens is place on the eye to act “like a bandage” for 5 days or until the surface epithelium has healed. The bandage contact lens is typically removed after 5 days.
Cross-linking is not a cure for keratoconus and glasses or contact lenses would still be required after the procedure. The aim of having CXL is to prevent keratoconus worsening over time, leading to Hydrops (clouding and scarring of the cornea) that would require a corneal graft. However, it is a proven method to halt any progression of keratoconus and prevent any further loss of vision or the need for corneal transplant.