Can keratoconus be treated?

Keratoconus is a disease of the cornea. It’s considered a non-inflammatory
disease of the cornea. We call that an ectactic
disease of the cornea. And yes, keratoconus can
be treated these days – there are a number of options available. In the early stages of keratoconus,
we can improve the vision with glasses and contact lenses and now we have the ability to treat progressive keratoconus
with corneal cross-linking. What corneal-cross linking achieves is it creates a chemical reaction between a vitamin –
vitamin B2 – and UV light and that increases the
strength of the cornea by a factor of 300%. When it comes to corneal cross-linking, there’s fairly good evidence
in the ophthalmic literature about the effectiveness of the procedure. And I have seen some very good results over the last eight years that I have been
performing this technique. So, we do find that patients
stabilise their condition and, in fact, in some cases we do see that some patients
improve their acuity, their vision, after the procedure. We do now have a Medicare
rebate item number that has reduced the cost of
the procedure significantly. Corneal cross-linking is a
procedure that is done as an outpatient procedure, so you
don’t have to be admitted into hospital. It can be done in a clinic, in a clean room environment. And the way we do it is we
gently remove the surface of the cornea with a cotton bud, we then apply the vitamin
on the surface of the eye as eye drops – it’s usually one drop every two minutes – and then we set the lamp
on top of the cornea, to begin the treatment. And the whole procedure,
as I mentioned earlier, takes about half an hour to 45 minutes. The recovery of the procedure
is actually quite quick. Patients go home with
a bandage contact lens or a little contact lens on the eye and, in most cases, we
remove the contact lens within a few days after the treatment. And the first post-operative
visit following the procedure of cross-linking, we remove the bandage contact lens and patients go home with a set
of eye drops for a few days. We do find that some patients have an improved vision within
a few days after treatment but, in most cases, you do
have to give a bit of time for the eye to recover and
that can take several weeks. In most cases after corneal cross-linking, patients can return back
to their normal duties, back to work, back to university, without any issues.

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