How Long Does it Take to Heal After Cross Linking Surgery?

May 3, 2022


What is a Corneal Cross-Linking Surgery?

Corneal cross-linking surgery is a procedure done to treat keratoconus by strengthening the collagen fibers in the cornea. It may seem like a complicated procedure, but it is perfectly safe and very effective. It is often combined with other treatments, such as specialty contact lenses, aimed at helping patients see more comfortably and clearly.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a relatively rare eye condition in which the front of the eye, called the “cornea”, thins and bulges outward, which makes it impossible for the eye to properly focus light. This often results in blurry vision, light sensitivity, and headaches. Keratoconus is largely a hereditary condition, but it can be aggravated by other medical conditions such as allergies or irritation to the eyes.

The Cross-Linking Surgical Procedure

Corneal cross-linking is designed to strengthen the cornea and slow down the degeneration caused by keratoconus. There are two types of procedures:

  • Epithelium-Off: In an epithelium-off procedure, the outer layer of the cornea (known as the epithelium) is removed, allowing liquid riboflavin to easily penetrate into the corneal tissue.
  • Epithelium-On: This is a similar procedure, except the epithelium is not removed from the cornea. This means that it takes a little longer for the riboflavin to penetrate the corneal tissue.

In either procedure, the liquid riboflavin strengthens the collagen fibers that make up the cornea. The procedure takes between one and two hours to complete, with the epithelium-on procedures taking a little longer. It is a minimally-invasive procedure in which liquid riboflavin drops are applied to the surface of the eye. This is immediately followed by ultraviolet light treatment to reduce corneal inflammation and thinning.

How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Cross-Linking Surgery?

After a cross-linking procedure,  you will be prescribed antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops to help speed up your recovery. Your eye might feel itchy and irritated for three to five days, and you might also need to wear a bandage contact lens to protect your eye as it heals. The recovery period is usually a week long, although some patients heal faster than others.

Contact Us

If you live with keratoconus and have any questions about a cross-linking procedure, contact Anh Nguyen Ophthamology in Falls Church, VA for a consultation today. All you need to do is fill out our online form and Dr. Anh Nguyen, Dr. David Parver, and Dr. Roshni Patel will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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