Corneal cross-linking is the therapy of choice for keratoconus. This is a degenerative disease resulting in a reduced structural rigidity of the cornea.

Keratoconus is a progressive bulging of the corneal tissue which thins the cornea and reverts the apex outwards. The result is that the cornea takes the form of a cone. Thus affecting the refractive power of the cornea, with important consequences for the patient’s vision.

Corneal cross-linking which has been available in Italy for several years, has just been approved in the US by the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration.

Professor Paolo Vinciguerra, Head of the Ophthalmology Centre at Humanitas emphasizes that, this approval by the FDA therefore certifies the effectiveness of corneal cross-linking in countering the gradual deformation of the cornea and its thinning. Since 2006, Humanitas has been the only Italian reference center and the first European international multi-center study for this technique.


What is corneal cross-linking?

Corneal cross-linking has emerged in recent years as the therapy of choice of keratoconus and means that the patient can, in most cases, avoid a corneal transplant. It is a minimally invasive treatment that aims to strengthen the cornea. This is achieved through the combined action of vitamin B2 and ultraviolet rays. Eye-drops containing riboflavin (vitamin B2) are applied to the cornea and the cornea is then irradiated with ultraviolet rays, thus increasing the connection of the cornea with their resistance fibers.

This avoids the progressive process of bulging of the cornea and the visual deterioration perceived by the patient.

“Today we can apply this technique in almost all patients with keratoconus. In fact, in the time we have improved so as to adapt to different patient situations. In patients treated with corneal cross-linking, keratoconus does not worsen. More than 50 percent of patients have seen a reduction in their astigmatism and their myopia, “says Prof. Vinciguerra.

Patients who are candidates for this technique are evaluated by topography and wave-front. Corneal cross-linking can not be applied in the presence of advanced keratoconus.