What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is an eye condition in which the typically round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins and weakens, causing the development of a cone-like bulge of the cornea. Unless treated appropriately, this bulging worsens over time and can result in significant visual loss and may eventually require corneal transplantation.

Corneal Cross-Linking

Corneal crosslinking is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that can prevent the progression of keratoconus as well as corneal thinning following laser eye surgery. It uses ultra-violet (UV) light and riboflavin (vitamin B2) eye drops to stabilize the cornea. At Foothill Eye Institute, we are proud to be one of the few eye care centers in the USA to offer this exciting treatment and we use the first and only FDA approved system available for the treatment of progressive keratoconus and corneal thinning after LASIK or other refractive surgery.

    What to Expect During Corneal Crosslinking:

  • Prior to the procedure your doctor will provide you with a prescription for a medication to relax you during the procedure. You will be instructed to take this medication a short time before the procedure begins.
  • After numbing drops are applied to your eye, a thin layer of the surface of your cornea will be gently removed to allow for better absorption of the medication.
  • Medicated eye drops are then applied to the cornea for around 30 min.
  • Once the cornea is ready, it is exposed to UV light for 30 minutes while additional medicated drops are applied.
  • A bandage contact lens will then be placed on the eye, which will remain in place until the surface of the eye heals over. This contact lens does not have to be taken in and out by the patient and will help with healing and minimize any discomfort. It will be removed by your doctor once the cornea has healed.

    After the Procedure:

  • You should not rub your eyes for the first five days after the procedure.
  • You may notice a sensitivity to light and have a foreign body sensation. You may also experience some discomfort in the treated eye and sunglasses may help with light sensitivity.
  • Severe pain in the eye or any sudden decrease in vision is not normal and if these are experienced, you should contact your physician immediately. If your bandage contact lens from the day of treatment falls out or becomes dislodged, you should not replace it and contact your physician immediately.

Does It Hurt?

There is occasionally some discomfort or foreign body sensation during the immediate recovery but usually not during the treatment. Immediately following treatment, a bandage contact lens is placed on the surface of the eye to protect the newly treated area and your eye doctor will give you a prescription for pills to take to minimize any discomfort.
The discomfort associated with this procedure is often described as a gritty, burning sensation and can almost always be managed with Tylenol and/or artificial tears. If pain is severe, other oral medications may be prescribed.

Other Treatment Options Offered for Keratoconus

Although corneal crosslinking is the only proven way to prevent the progression of keratoconus, there are other ways that patients with keratoconus can be helped.


Intacs Corneal Implants are small plastic rings that can be placed in the cornea to restore a more normal shape to the cornea in patients with keratoconus. This procedure can help make wear of hard contact lenses more comfortable or even allow correction of vision with soft contacts or glasses.

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Corneal Transplant Surgery

With corneal transplant surgery, your surgeon will replace all or part of your cornea with a healthy cornea that has been donated for this purpose. We are pleased to offer this procedure in both traditional technique as well as the latest method that uses a laser to help perform certain steps of the procedure. Your surgeon will let you know if you are a candidate for the laser assisted surgery.

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