Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Keratoconus and cross-linking

Keratoconus is a degenerative disease that tends to get worse over time. It is often seen in young males and those with Down's syndrome. Treatment for keratoconus usually starts with glasses then rigid contacts and eventually penetrating keratoplasty (PKP or cornea transplant). A new procedure is showing promise for use as a treatment for keratoconus.

Cornea cross-linking has been shown outside of the USA to help stabilize the keratoconus. In keratoconus the cornea (front-clear part of the eye) begins to weaken and bulge. What cross-linking does is increase the number of anchors that keep the cornea from bulging. The process is currently in FDA trials in the US but has been shown to be effective and safe in European studies.

Cross-linking may slow the progression of keratoconus (the bulging) and help reduce the number of cornea transplants that are required for this group of patients. This is a promising prospect as PKP is invasive, unpredictable and often the implant develops keratoconus also requiring additional transplant procedures every five to ten years.

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