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Corneal crosslinking or corneal collagen crosslinking (CXL) is a minimally invasive procedure that can halt or slow the progression of eye conditions such as keratoconus and pellucid marginal degeneration. Corneal collagen crosslinking, using riboflavin and UV light, received FDA approval on April 18, 2016. This is the only treatment that can prevent the condition from progressing. Doctors at Eyes of New Mexico Family Optometry and Contact Lenses can determine if you're a good candidate for this procedure.

If you’re a candidate for corneal crosslinking, as discussed with your optometrist, it can be exciting to have a method that can keep your eyesight from getting worse. It is also normal to feel some anxiety over the procedure. Here’s what you can expect from your corneal crosslinking procedure.

Preparing for Corneal Crosslinking

Typically, we will treat only one eye at a time. The other eye will have the procedure after several weeks or months. 

Depending on the contact lenses you wear, your doctor may advise you to not wear your lenses for about two weeks before the procedure. 

The Day of Your Corneal Crosslinking Procedure

  • Don’t wear eye makeup, perfume or aftershave.
  • Bring a pair of sunglasses with you to wear after the procedure.
  • Do not have vitamin C before or after the procedure (including in foods high in vitamin C like orange juice).
  • If you’d like, bring a pair of headphones to listen to music or podcasts during the procedure.

During the Procedure 

  1. Your doctor will place drops in your eyes to numb them. 
  2. You will then lie back while the procedure is being done. Your eyelid will be kept open during the procedure using a special tool. Riboflavin (Vitamin B12) eyedrops are then applied to your eye. These drops will allow your cornea to better absorb light and will take about 30 minutes to soak into your cornea.
  3. A UV light is then applied for up to 30 minutes and you’ll look into the light.
  4. Your doctor will place a contact lens in your eye to help with healing.
  5. The whole procedure will take about 60-90 minutes. You shouldn’t feel any pain. 

After the Procedure

  • You won’t be able to drive. Please make arrangements for someone to pick you up to take you home. Expect to not be able to drive for about a week following the procedure.
  • You may experience some sensitivity to light. Bring a pair of sunglasses with you to wear afterwards and continue wearing while you’re healing.
  • You will be given a prescription for eyedrops to prevent infection. Carefully follow instructions for using them.
  • You may experience some discomfort for a few days. Cold compresses and ice packs may help.
  • For the first few hours you may want to keep your eyes closed and rest. It’s best not to plan any other events for the day.
  • Contact us if the contact lens falls out and don’t try to put it back in. It will be removed at your post-procedure appointment.
  • Don’t rub your eyes for at least 5 days following your procedure. Keep your eyes from coming into any contact with water. Also avoid wearing makeup.
  • Avoid computer screens, television and reading for the first 24-48 hours.
  • Contact your doctor if you experience severe or worsening pain.

It can take several weeks for your eyes to heal and your vision may not be fully functioning during that time. Most people will return to work about a week after corneal crosslinking, but you may choose to take more time. After your doctor has given you approval, you can return to wearing your glasses or contact lenses you wore before the procedure. During this period, you may notice your vision improving, worsening or changing. It should stabilize after about 3 months.

For the 2-4 weeks following your procedure

  • Avoid dusty, smoky environments for the first two weeks.
  • Put off that vacation for at least a month after the procedure and avoid flying.
  • Avoid sun exposure.
  • Stay away from swimming pools and chlorinated water.
  • Avoid makeup for at least 2 weeks.
  • After 3-6 months, you may need new glasses or contact lenses as your vision prescription may have changed.

Doctors at Eyes of New Mexico Family Optometry and Contact Lenses are experienced with corneal crosslinking and assessing patients for the procedure. If you suffer from keratoconus or pellucid marginal degeneration, or your family has a history of these conditions, contact our office for a consultation. We can treat children and adults using corneal crosslinking. Call 505-828-3937 or schedule an appointment online.