Corneal Cross-Linking

Corneal cross-linking (CXL) is an in-office procedure designed to strengthen the cornea (the clear, outer lens on the front of the eye) when it has become weakened by laser vision correction surgery or an eye condition called keratoconus. The procedure uses ultraviolet (UV) light and special eye drops containing vitamin B2 to strengthen the cornea. Much like rebar provides strength to concrete, cross-linking provides strength to the cornea by creating connections within the cornea.

The two basic types of corneal cross-linking are:

  • Epithelium-off: The thin outer layer (epithelium) of the cornea is removed to allow the vitamin B2 drops to more easily penetrate the corneal tissue. This is the only FDA-approved type of CXL.
  • Epithelium-on (or transepithelial CXL): The epithelium of the cornea is left intact and requires a longer period of time for the vitamin B2 drops to be absorbed into the corneal tissue. This type of cross-linking is not FDA-approved but is being studied in clinical trials to determine its effectiveness.

CXL has been found to be highly effective in preventing the progression of keratoconus and post-refractive surgery corneal weakening. In fact, patients who undergo CXL typically see their vision improve by a few lines on the eye chart. The procedure carries little risk, and the benefits are significant. UAB Callahan Eye is excited to offer this procedure to patients who need it.

The specialists at UAB Callahan Eye use the most advanced technology and are known for working together to treat the full range of both common and complex corneal problems. From cataract and corneal surgeries to highly specialized contact lenses, Callahan features the expertise, experience, and cutting-edge equipment needed to treat the most challenging corneal conditions. Patients come here from around the world and nation because we don’t just treat eye disease – we empower patients to take control of their eye health.

Callahan is the only full-service facility in Alabama specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of the eye and one of only a few worldwide that is entirely devoted to advancements in ophthalmology. That reputation is supported by 16 operating rooms dedicated to eye surgery and a 24/7 eye emergency room that is the region’s only Level I Ocular Trauma Center. More than 15,000 surgeries are performed at UAB Callahan Eye each year, and we conduct more reconstructive eye procedures than any other facility in the world.

Our facility is home to more than two dozen ophthalmologists, many of whom are named among the top doctors in their fields nationally. Callahan is widely recognized for excellence in patient care, having consistently earned prestigious awards from health care consulting group Press Ganey, and in 2017 Callahan was named as one of the “100 Great Places to Work in Healthcare” by Becker’s Hospital Review.

Callahan also is known for pioneering developments in surgical instruments, devices, and procedures used by ophthalmologists across the globe. As part of the UAB Medicine academic medical center, Callahan is actively involved in ongoing research and clinical trials. Many of our ophthalmologists have received funding from prestigious research organizations and institutions and collaborate in clinical care to bring the latest in scientific discovery to our patients.

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