Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking (CXL) Surgery for Keratoconus in Chicago

At Kraff Eye Institute, we are committed to helping our patients prevent the worsening of  keratoconus, and corneal ectasia through our advanced Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking (CXL) procedure in Chicago. Utilizing state-of-the-art CXL technologies, Dr. Kraff treats patients with a high level of accuracy, greatly improving their vision and quality of life.


What Is Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL) Procedure?

Corneal collagen crosslinking (CXL), also known as CL, is a method to counteract the effects of keratoconus and corneal ectasia, which are conditions that weaken the cornea's collagen, leading to an altered shape that can blur vision.  The Avedro KXL system works by combining an eye drop containing riboflavin (vitamin b2) with a UV light, which helps to strengthen the collagen tissue in the cornea and prevents further stretching and weakening. The CXL treatment may not reverse the already existing vision distortions, but it aims to prevent further degradation. This advanced procedure is a recently FDA-approved treatment.

There are two types of corneal cross-linking: Epi-On vs Epi-Off. Epi-Off corneal cross-linking involves removing the outer layer of the cornea (epithelium) before treatment, while Epi-On corneal cross-linking leaves the epithelium intact.

At the Kraff Eye Institute, we perform the FDA approved, “Epi-Off” technique. What that means is that we use a surgical instrument to gently brush off the corneal surface cells, known as the epithelium. We feel that by removing the top layer of cells, the riboflavin eye drop will penetrate deeper into the cornea allowing for better results. The epithelium that is removed regenerates on its own. This can take a few days to occur so the patient should plan on some initial downtime to recover. The Avedro KXL system is the only FDA-approved treatment for crosslinking in the United States.


What Is Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a degenerative condition of the cornea which causes it to bulge outward taking on more of a cone shape versus a dome shape. As the cornea bulges, the collagen tissue which gives the cornea its shape begins to stretch and break. This results in a thinner, more unstable, cornea.

Symptoms can vary so it is recommended that you consult with an eye specialist who can assess and diagnose the condition. Some signs of keratoconus may include:

  • Constant and regularly changing refractive errors with increasing astigmatism
  • Blurred or distorted vision that may not be correctable with glasses or contact lenses
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches and general eye pain
  • Eye irritation, excessive eye rubbing
Corneal Collagen Cross

Are You a Candidate for Corneal Collagen Cross Linking (CXL)?

Corneal collagen crosslinking (CXL) can be a significant aid for individuals battling vision disturbances due to a weakened corneal stroma, corneal ulcers, or post-LASIK ectasia. There are certain factors that determine the candidacy for this procedure:

  • Age: The FDA has approved a crosslinking procedure for patients who are 14 years or older. The goal of a crosslinking procedure is to stop the progression of Keratoconus. The earlier the condition is diagnosed and monitored, the better.
  • The severity of the condition: CXL aims for corneal cross-linking vision improvement, but its effectiveness may depend on the extent of your corneal degradation.
  • Overall eye health: Other eye conditions may influence the suitability for CXL.

Learn More About Corneal Cross-Linking Treatment in Chicago Today

Ready to regain control over your vision? Learn more about how corneal collagen cross-linking for keratoconus at Kraff Eye Institute can help. Schedule your cross-linking surgery consultation today.

312-757-7335Schedule Consultation
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How Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL) Surgery Works

Before the Procedure

Prior to the crosslinking surgical procedure, the patient will need a complete eye exam to determine the severity of their keratoconus or corneal ectasia. Based on the exam, the doctor will determine if a crosslinking procedure is a viable treatment option to achieve a healthier cornea.

During The Procedure

  • On the day of your treatment, you should plan on being in the office for about 2 hours. Patients are given a mild oral sedative to help them relax during the treatment. We'll use several sets of numbing drops to ensure a comfortable, pain-free, procedure for the patient.
  • Once the eye is numb, Dr. Kraff will use an instrument to gently remove the top layer (epithelium) of your cornea.
  • Once removed, we'll start to administer a medicated eye drop called Photrexa. This contains an active ingredient called riboflavin.
  • Once the cornea is saturated with the Photrexa, we'll then use the KXL system, which utilizes UV light. The UV treatment is 30 minutes and during this time, we'll continue to administer the Photrexa. The UV light combined with the Photrexa starts the crosslinking reaction in your cornea and works to strengthen the collagen tissue.

After The Procedure

Once the treatment is complete, Dr. Kraff will place a clear, soft, bandage contact lens on the eye. The patient will wear this lens for the first couple of days following the procedure.

During the healing process, we advise patients to avoid most of their normal day-to-day tasks, like  work, driving, staring at a computer, or reading. Patients should plan accordingly so that they have the necessary downtime to allow for proper healing. It's normal to experience some discomfort during the first 1 to 2 days following the treatment. The patient will be given oral pain medication to help minimize  discomfort during this initial healing time. You will also be using prescription eye drops for the first several days, to months, after the treatment.

Once the corneal epithelium is healed, which only takes a couple of days, Dr. Kraff will remove the bandage contact lens. Most patients can resume their normal activities later that day, or the following day.

healing process

Corneal Cross-Linking Side Effects & Risks

Corneal crosslinking surgery, a procedure used to treat keratoconus and other corneal disorders, carries potential side effects and risks. While considered safe and effective, there are a few complications associated with this procedure. Some common side effects include temporary eye discomfort, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. In rare cases, more severe complications can occur, such as corneal infections, scarring, or persistent vision problems. It's crucial for patients to be aware of these potential risks and discuss them thoroughly with their ophthalmologist before undergoing corneal cross-linking surgery. Here are some key points to consider regarding corneal cross-linking side effects and risks:

  • Temporary eye discomfort
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Corneal infections (rare)
  • Scarring (rare)
  • Persistent vision problems (rare)
Corneal Cross-Linking

How Much Does Corneal Cross-Linking Cost?

The cost of corneal collagen crosslinking can vary, largely dependent on specific factors including geographical location, the surgeon's expertise, and whether the procedure is covered by your insurance. It's crucial to understand that insurance coverage for corneal cross-linking costs varies significantly, depending on your specific plan. At Kraff Eye Institute, our dedicated billing department is here to help clarify your out-of-pocket price and determine your eligibility for financial assistance through the ARCH program. We strive to ensure coverage for this life-changing procedure is accessible to all who need it.

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Reviews For Corneal Cross-Linking Services At Kraff Eye, Chicago


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About Our Corneal Cross-Linking Doctor

Dr. Colman Kraff is a renowned surgeon specializing in CXL (corneal collagen crosslinking) procedures. Dr. Colman Kraff first developed a passion for ophthalmology when he witnessed his father perform a cornea transplant at the age of 13. With a lifelong dedication to ophthalmology, he brings extensive expertise and experience to each patient's treatment. Dr. Kraff's commitment to delivering exceptional results in corneal cross-linking makes him a trusted and sought-after professional in the field.

Schedule a CXL Surgery Consultation in Chicago

Schedule a consultation at Kraff Eye institute today for expert (CXL) corneal cross-linking surgery.

312-757-7335Schedule Consultation
Vision Solutions

FAQ About Corneal Cross-Linking

What is the corneal cross-linking success rate?

Expand F.A.Q.

Corneal cross-linking has shown a high success rate in halting the progression of keratoconus and stabilizing the cornea. Studies indicate an effectiveness of around 95% in preventing further deterioration and improving visual outcomes for patients undergoing corneal cross-linking.

Is corneal cross-linking FDA approved?

Expand F.A.Q.

Yes, corneal cross-linking (CXL) has received FDA approval for the treatment of progressive keratoconus and corneal ectasia following refractive surgery. It's considered a safe and effective procedure for stabilizing the cornea and halting the progression of these conditions.

Is corneal cross-linking painful?

Expand F.A.Q.

During the corneal cross-linking procedure, we use numbing eye drops to minimize discomfort. Some patients may experience mild discomfort or a sensation of pressure, but the procedure itself is generally well-tolerated and not considered painful.

Can I go back to work following being treated?

Expand F.A.Q.

A patient should plan to take some time off to recover and heal. Dr. Kraff will discuss the recovery period and advise you on how much time you’ll need to take off of work or school.

How long does corneal cross-linking take?

Expand F.A.Q.

The corneal cross-linking procedure typically takes approximately one to two hours to complete. This includes the preparation, application of riboflavin drops, and exposure to ultraviolet light. However, the actual duration may vary depending on the specific case and the surgeon's technique.

Can I have LASIK after a crosslinking treatment?

Expand F.A.Q.

LASIK eye surgery consists of using a laser to remove tissue from the cornea. With that being said, LASIK eye surgery is not recommended after cross-linking.