If you are lucky, you get to be part of one medical advance in your career that fundamentally changes treatment for your patients. So far I have been incredibly fortunate enough to be involved in 3: collagen crosslinking for keratoconus, laser assisted cataract surgery and SMILE laser eye surgery. Today I am going to tell you about collagen crosslinking for keratoconus.
In my last blog post, I told you about keratoconus: a genetic condition that causes progressive loss of vision in mainly teenagers and adults. Previously, there was no treatment to stop it. Patients wore hard contact lens until the bulge in their cornea (front lens of the eye) became too great and then ended up with a corneal transplant.
Then in 2001, two German ophthalmologists named Theo Seiler and Gregor Wollensak invented a treatment called collagen crosslinking. Using UV light and vitamin B2, crosslinking was shown to strengthen the weak structure of the cornea, stopping the progressive bulge and loss of vision. At first, no one believed them- it seemed too good to be true.
In 2005 I performed my first collagen crosslinking procedure while I was in the USA, working under Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler. At that stage, I was one of only a few eye surgeons in the world performing the procedure. Fast forward more than 10 years, collagen crosslinking is now considered standard of care internationally. It's estimated that the rate of corneal transplant has fallen by 50% as a result.
For my young patients, it's meant a completely different life pathway and a much much better one. And that puts a big smile on my face...
* Information on this blog is general in nature and should not be taken as professional medical advice or as a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional.