Cross Linking - Laser Eye Surgery Guide

Cross-linking is a non-invasive treatment that is used in the correction of the disorder, keratoconus. The target of cross-linking is to strengthen the patient's weak cornea. 'Cross-linking' the corneal collagen fibres does this.

Collagen fibres are extremely strong, especially when they are cross-linked into such a network as done in this method of treatment. The result is that the structure of the cornea is reinforced and strengthened so that the cornea's bulging appearance (the main characteristic of keratoconus) is prevented.

The cross-linking C3-R procedure

The cross-linking C3-R treatment is rather quick to perform and there is the option to combine it with ICRs or INTACS.

To start, the surgeon applies eye drops containing riboflavin. The surgeon subsequently activates these drops. This is made possible by covering the entire surface of the eye with a specific, predetermined wavelength of light.

This process is performed as it causes the collagen fibres to become stimulated and form cross-links with one another inside the cornea. The result is a network of fibres strengthening the cornea significantly.

The procedure, as a whole, only takes around 30 minutes. Once completed, the surgeon will proceed to apply a soft contact lens. This must be worn in the eye for 24 hours after the surgery as a means of protection.

After the surgery, you will be prescribed some eye drops and instructed on exactly how and when to use them. You should follow this advice strictly when you get home to ensure you do not develop any problems such as infections.

If the procedure has been done in conjunction with ICR or INTACS, the cornea will also have been flattened as well as strengthened.

Patients of radial keratectomy

Research has proven that cross-linking is a good treatment for those who have previously undergone radial keratectomy (RK). This is due to it having a permanent, stabilising effect.