Corneal cross-linking is a procedure used to treat patients with an eye disease called keratoconus and corneal ectasia after LASIK surgery. The expert eye surgeons at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Havener Eye Institute in Columbus, Ohio, are skilled at corneal cross-linking, and we treat every patient as we would like our own family to be treated.

Why corneal cross-linking is done

Your cornea is the clear, dome-shaped window at the front of your eye. When keratoconus occurs, the cornea thins and bulges out like a cone. The result is that your vision is out of focus, blurry and distorted. This makes daily tasks like driving or reading difficult.

Corneal cross-linking, also called collagen cross-linking, can treat keratoconus by flattening or stiffening your cornea. This keeps it from bulging further, and this effect lasts for many years. There’s evidence that corneal cross-linking may be a permanent fix for keratoconus.

What are the risks of corneal cross-linking

Corneal cross-linking is a minimally invasive procedure with a low complication and low failure rate. As with all surgeries, there are some risks, such as:

  • Eye infection
  • Eye pain or swelling
  • Damage to the cornea or epithelium
  • Blurred vision, hazy vision or other vision problems

How to prepare for corneal cross-linking

The steps for preparing for corneal cross-linking are as follows:

  • Don’t wear any eye makeup, perfume or after-shave on the day of your procedure
  • Eat only a light meal and fluids the day of your procedure
  • Arrange to have someone take you home on the day of your procedure, and also to the post-treatment appointment the following day
  • Don’t plan on going on vacation, flying or swimming during the month after your procedure
  • Limit your sun exposure in the first month after your procedure

What to expect with corneal cross-linking

Your ophthalmologist will do the following:

  • Numb your eye with eye drops
  • Gently remove the outer layer of your cornea
  • Put riboflavin vitamin drops on your eye many times over 30 minutes or longer
  • Shine a special ultraviolet light on your eye for another 30 minutes while adding more riboflavin drops

The combination of ultraviolet light and riboflavin drops work together to make collagen bonds in the cornea stronger. This allows your eye to become stiffer and stop bulging out.

After your procedure, you might have eye discomfort for a few days, and your vision could become blurry. Your ophthalmologist will put a contact lens in your eye to help it heal.

It’s very important not to rub your eyes for at least five days after your procedure. If your eyes are sensitive to light, wear sunglasses. If you have severe pain or sudden worsening of your vision, tell your ophthalmologist immediately.

You may need new glasses or contact lenses following cross-corneal linking surgery.