Every year thousands of people need a cornea transplant to restore their vision for a problem called "Keratoconus", a hereditary problem that causes the cornea to thin and protrude. Patients are typically given glasses or special contacts to help but they often end up in need of a cornea transplant. Now, a new, relatively simple procedure could soon help those patients avoid corneal transplant.
Doyle Stulting, M.D., Ph.D., says, "It's a relatively simple concept. Riboflavin is Vitamin B2. We saturate the cornea with riboflavin by dropping it onto the cornea. We have to remove the thin layer of cells that covers the cornea in order to allow it to pass into the deep parts of the cornea".
The eye drops sit for 30 minutes and are then exposed to ultraviolet light for another 30 minutes, which creates a chemical reaction that causes the cornea to stiffen. A contact lens is put in place for a couple days to help the healing, and eyesight improves in a month.
The procedure has been used outside the U.S., but clinical trials in this country only started in January. Dr. Stulting says that researchers are hoping for FDA approval within a year or two.
The procedure is called "Riboflavin Ultraviolet-light Induced Corneal Collagen Cross Linking". For information on the clinical trial, (click here). Then, type the trial identification number in the search box: NCT00567671. If you are interested in going to Emory to take part in the study, call (404) 778-6155.