Importance of Screening & Early Diagnosis

We have been talking about how cross linking can help patients suffering from Keratoconus. We may’ve a bigger issue to confront. What about before cross linking, what about the diagnosis and screening of Keratoconus. It is important for patients with Keratoconus to be screened as early as possible. The best results with corneal cross linking eye procedure are obtained when the disorder is arrested early. As the disease progresses the loss of visual acuity increases dramatically, and the earlier it is detected the easier and higher possibility that full visual acuity returns. You may want to read some frequently asked questions on keratoconus and cross linking.

Some symptoms of Keratoconus are blurry vision, increased light sensitivity, eye strain, headaches/general eye pain, eye irritation/excessive eye rubbing. A caution should be noted that these symptoms can also be indications of other eye problems. That is why it i important to see a keratoconus expert. The doc in conjunction with measurement of the curvature of the cornea, a depth map and examining the eyes can identify the disease more early and accurately.

From a doctor’s perspective, as they physically examine the eye with a microscope, the signs they  would be looking for are corneal thinning, Fleischer’s ring, Vogt’s striae, and apical scarring. The measuring of the corneal curvature can be done three different ways: first would be keratometry, second is corneal tomography, and third is a corneal OCT. Though all three should performed for increasing the accuracy of the measurement.     

Now that you have a basic understanding of importance of early detection try our quiz on keratoconus.

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Truths about Keratoconus and Cross Linking

I am amazed when doctors claim that they have invented a procedure even though it has existed for years before. For example a surgeon claiming they invented cornea cross linking even though it was being performed in Europe for many years.

What gets me peeved is that some doctors use unproven technology and convince patients its the best. Snake oil sellers are an amusement till patients are harmed. So I decided to list some truths about keratoconous eye disease and cornea collagen cross linking.

The 10 Golden Truths about Cornea Cross Linking By Rajesh Khanna, MD a Keratoconus specialist.

  1. Keratoconus is a sight threatening disease. It involves the thinning and bulging of the cornea.
  2. Recent data suggests it may be more prevalent than 1 in 2000 people
  3. Cornea Collagen Cross Linking (CXL) is a proven and effective way to halt the progression of progressive keratoconus eye disease.
  4. CXL may be used to stabilize post lasik ectasia.
  5. Epithelium off Cornea cross linking is more effective than epi on cross linking.
  6. Conventional cornea cross linking – 3 mw for 30 minutes is the gold standard.
  7. Conventional  cross linking is more effective than accelerated cross linking (18 mw or 30 mw). No other power setting is better.
  8. No studies have shown epi on cross linking to be more effective than conventional epi off cross linking.
  9. FDA has only approved Avedro KXL system/Photrexa for treatment of progressive keratoconus. No other system nor riboflavin compound has passed that litmus test.
  10. Avedro KXL/ Photrexa which treats at 3mw is currently safer and more effective than other currently available epi on choices in Los Angeles

I would invite comments by optometrists, ophthalmologists and peers especially keratoeonus experts.

Avedro KXL system in the hands of an experienced Keratoconus surgeon following FDA protocols would be safer than an unproven experimental epi on technology.                      We therefore offer Avedro cornea collagen cross linking with the FDA approved protocol.

Keratoconus treatment and FDA approvals

We have been receiving a lot of questions from patients via social media and telephone calls. People out there are confused regarding the safety and efficacy of the various advertised treatment methods for keratoconus.  This is a quick recap of the currently available interventions to help people suffering from keratoconus eye disease. We have Intacs, Cornea Cross Linking, DALK and Corneal transplant. DALK and Corneal Transplant are surgical techniques and thus are not in the purview of the FDA. Let us confine our discussion today than to Intacs and Cross Linking for keratoconus eye disease.

Intacs for Keratoconus are FDA approved

Yes Intacs are the only intracorneal ring implants approved by FDA. Others like Ferras rings are not approved and cannot be sold in USA. Dr. Khanna is one of the participants in an Institutional Review Board monitoring by Integrview.  This ongoing oversight ensures that the results are safe.

Is Corneal Cross linking FDA approved?

There are three types of Corneal cross linking available in the US today.

  1. FDA approved : There is one and only one FDA approved – KXL device and riboflavin called Photrexa manufactured by Avedro. This means that Avedro did a clinical study to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of their  formulation with their unique device. Data was submitted to the FDA. Federal Drug and Administration studied the reports. They asked questions and requested more data. Once this was reviewed  FDA approved the Avedro method.
  2. Clinical studies : There are clinical studies being performed by different groups like the AECOS and CXL study groups. FDA has not given the green light on them.
  3. God Given: These are devices which doctors cannot explain how they arrived in their offices or surgery rooms. The data from these unexplained devices is not being submitted to FDA nor even peer review. No one knows what drugs are being used.

Which one should you use?

FDA ensures the safety of our eyes. They review the statistical data to keep us safe. Therefore when comparing different treatments it is easier for us to know which is safer.

Since there is only one FDA approved cross linking procedure, choose AVEDRO Cornea Cross Linking.

Learn more about treatment modalities for keratoconus.

Pupil Tracking in Cornea cross linking for Keratoconus.

We have been talking about the advantages of epithelium off cross linking. This from of cross linking has shown to work in numerous studies across the world.

But are all delivery methods the same? Certain machines hope the patient keeps looking at the UV light.  Have you tried staring at something for 30 minutes. As a kid you may have played the stare off game. Its tough to do it especially in Los Angeles with the dry weather.

The solution in this fight against keratoconus is to involve a pupil tracker. In the above video you will see it in action. If the eye moves away from the light, the UV delivery and timer will stop. You  can set how much movement you are willing to allow.

This increases the safety. One can definitely know that 30 minutes was delivered. It can avoid a situation where a fidgety patients moves and receives only 20 minutes of the radiation. Increasing safety also relaxes the patients. Most of the people requiring this intervention against Keratoconus eye disease are teenagers. Pupil tracking rocks.

Line of Demarcation after Cornea Cross Linking

Epithelium off Cornea collagen cross linking (CXL) is not voodoo. We realize that early in new technology a lot of unfounded claims like epi on CXL being Better than epi off might be made. It behooves us clinicians to present proof to peers.

There is a symbiosis between diagnostic technology and treatments. We will take help of Carl Zeiss Ocular coherence tomography to demonstrate the effectiveness of epi off CXL.

Here is a High Density picture of a keratoconus cornea before any treatment. It is early keratoconus in a young girl. This is the best time to intervene to treat Keratoconus. Look how uniform the picture is. The top layer of epithelium can be clearly seen. We remove this layer with laser or as Professor Theo Seiler recommends with ethyl alcohol.

HD OCT Cornea in Keratoconus

Epithelium prevents riboflavin from entering the stroma and hinders the UV absorption. Look at the picture below. You can clearly see a haze which ends around 80 % depth as a line of demarcation.

Line of Demarcation after cross linking

The same line of demarcation after cornea cross linking is better highlighted in they colored OCT of the Cornea.

Color line of Demarcation cross linking

If you are suffering from Keratoconus Call 805-283-6520 to see if cross linking of cornea is the best option for you.

 

Is Corneal Cross Linking experimental?

or Does It really work?

We pose this question as many medical insurances deny patients reimbursement for cornea cross linking to treat keratoconus. Many parents also pose this question as their own optometrists were unaware of the benefits of cross linking the cornea.

We are going to turn to Australia for a peer review objective answer to this question. Our Australian colleagues performed a study which has been vetted by our peers. The Australian keratoconus experts selected 100 eyes with progressive keratoconus eye disease. They divided them into 2 groups. One would receive Conventional cornea cross linking while the other would have no intervention ( like your insurance company would want). They measured various data like vision, cornea thickness, and curvature of the cornea at various intervals over a period of 3 years.

Are you ready for the results? Can you guess what they showed?

Yes Conventional Cross Linking with UV-A applied on riboflavin soaked eyes was able to prevent steepening  of the cornea. It preserved vision both uncorrected and best corrected. It also improved the shape and vision in many instances. We are so convinced by the results we would not be able to repeat it here in the United States. For we would not condemn any kid with keratoconus to be in the control group. The benefits are so obvious. Like society eradicated Polio it is time to wipe away keratoconus eye disease.

Feel Free to print the abstract from the respected Journal Ophthalmology which is attached as an image to show your doubting doc, illogical insurance rep or obstinate optometrist.

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Accelerated Cross linking effective in Children for treatment of Keratoconus

Accelerated Cross linking has been in use to treat Keratoconus. The traditional time of cross linking at 3 mw of UV energy has been 30 minutes. In accelerated protocols the energy is increased to 9 mw and the time decreased to 10 minutes. It is more comfortable for patients especially teens.

In this recently published study we find that accelerated cross linking is as effective as conventional cross linking. This is good news for Keratoconus Experts seeking to cure and halt the progression of the disease. The doctors of this study done at Zurich compared the results in patients where keratoconus had been documented by corneal topography. The corneal thickness had to be greater than 400 microns.

They compared the shape or topography and vision 12 months later. They found the accelerated treatment had similar outcomes.The failure rate in accelerated were 9/39 whereas in conventional they were 6/39.

So statistically accelerated crosslinking may be as good as conventional. Still it is not superior.