Keratoconus is a corneal condition that affects 1 in 2000 individuals, and is characterized by progressive thinning and outward protrusion of the cornea, (the clear structure that surrounds the front of the human eye). Progressive keratoconus results in an irregular, cone-shaped cornea which produces astigmatism that interferes with the ability of light to focus properly, resulting in deterioration of quality of vision. In early stages of keratoconus, vision can often be improved using cylindrical correction in glasses or soft contact lenses. However, in later stages most patients require rigid gas permeable lenses to achieve adequate vision. Advanced keratoconus often results in poor contact lens tolerance.
The placement of IntacsTM, (curved plastic ring segments) into the cornea can improve both vision and contact lens fit to a certain extent, but does not affect the underlying cause of the disease. It is estimated that as many as 20% of keratoconus patients ultimately progress to a very advanced stage, requiring corneal transplantation surgery to restore a more normal corneal shape and improve vision. Corneal transplants often improve vision with glasses and contact lenses, but the surgery is invasive, the risks are not low, recovery is lengthy and there is a lifelong risk of transplant rejection.
Corneal Collagen Cross-linking (C3R) with riboflavin has been historically offered throughout the world, outside of the United States. It is not yet widely available in the U.S. as the combination therapy of UV light and Riboflavin is not specifically approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This new cutting edge treatment is now being offered at Mass. Eye and Ear, Waltham.
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