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New hope for keratoconus patients

Collagen cross-linkingKeratoconus patients have promising news with CERA researchers finding strong new evidence on a promising treatment known as corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL).

Keratoconus is a condition of the eye where the cornea (front window of the eye) gets progressively thinner. As a result, the normally round shape of the cornea becomes distorted and protrudes, causing significant vision loss. It is usually diagnosed in the teenage years and remains the most common reason for corneal transplantation in Australia.

CXL involves the application of riboflavin (vitamin B2) solution to the cornea. The riboflavin is then activated with ultra-violet light. This process strengthens the cornea, which can slow down or even halt the progression of keratoconus.

Since the first clinical study from Germany was published in 2003, there have been an increasing number of studies reporting the safety and effectiveness of CXL.  However, there has been a lack of a randomised controlled studies (which compare treated eyes to untreated eyes) with longer-term follow-up to support the widespread use of CXL for keratoconus.

CERA researchers published their 3 year results from a 5-year randomised, controlled trial of CXL for progressive keratoconus online in January 2014 in ‘Ophthalmology’ – one of the most prestigious journals in eye research.

They found that CXL was effective in stabilising the keratoconus in most cases and in some improving vision both with and without glasses. In contrast there was continued progression of the disease in untreated eyes.

Investigator Dr Christine Wittig-Silva said that CERA is now focussed on completing study over the next two years.

“We couldn’t have come this far without our participants and donors and we are very grateful for their time and support,” she said.

Read the latest Australian Study of Keratoconus (ASK) newsletter.