Collagen crosslinking treatment involved applying riboflavin to the cornea, then exposing it to a specific form
[Included for the benefits of vitamin B - Ed]
of ultraviolet light - with 68% success
From the American Academy of Ophthalmology media release:
Patients in the
United States who have the cornea-damaging disease keratoconus may soon be able to benefit from a new treatment that is
already proving effective in Europe and other parts of the world. The treatment, called collagen crosslinking,
improved vision in almost 70 percent of patients treated for keratoconus in a recent three-year clinical trial in
The treatment is in clinical trials in the United States and is likely to receive FDA approval in
2012. The results of the Milan study are being presented today at the 115th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of
Ophthalmology in Orlando, Florida.
In a session titled Long-term Results of Corneal Crosslinking for
Keratoconus, Paolo Vinciguerra, MD will describe the treatment and three-year follow up of more than 250 keratoconus
patients who received collagen crosslinking at his clinic. Sixty-eight percent of the 500 eyes treated gained
significant visual acuity, with their results remaining stable at the end of the follow-up period. Patients over age
18 were most likely to improve.
In the collagen crosslinking procedure, riboflavin (vitamin B) is
applied to the cornea, which is then exposed to a specific form of ultraviolet light. Collagen fibers regenerate
with new bonds forming between them, increasing corneal stiffness and strength. The treatment also combats the causes of
keratoconus, reducing the chance that it will recur.
The rest of the eye receives only minimal UV
exposure during treatment. Dr. Vinciguerra's new study confirms that adverse effects are rare. Previous research by
his team indicated no loss of corneal endothelial cell, a measurement used to assess the safety of corneal treatments, in
patients who received collagen crosslinking.
"For many people with keratoconus, collagen crosslinking can
provide a better and more permanent solution to their vision problems," said Dr. Vinciguerra. "Given that no
current treatment in use in the U.S. offers permanent correction, this effective option represents a significant advance for
One in 2,000 people in the United States and worldwide are diagnosed with keratoconus,
a disease that damages the collagen fibers that form the structure of the cornea, which is the outer surface of the eye. The
cornea's crucial task is to focus, or "refract," incoming light toward the eye's lens. To perform properly, the
cornea needs to be rounded, like the surface of a ball. As keratoconus worsens and the cornea becomes thinner, it may
bulge outward in a cone shape, causing nearsightedness and/or astigmatism, making clear vision impossible. As the
number of fibers and links between them decline, the cornea loses up to 50 percent of its normal
Standard treatments in the U.S., such as specialized eyeglasses, contact lenses, or implanted
lenses, cannot permanently correct keratoconus, and none of these treatments address the underlying causes. Severe
keratoconus often requires corneal transplant.