MCHENRY, Ill., March 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A potentially blinding disease called keratoconus may now be stopped and even reversed with a new process applying vitamin B2 eye drops and low-dose ultraviolet light to the diseased eye. The first FDA-monitored clinical trial in Illinois of what is called "corneal collagen cross linking" has begun and is enrolling under the direction of Robert L. Epstein, MD at the McHenry and Niles offices of Mercy Health System.
People afflicted with keratoconus lose vision due to a weakness in the cornea, the front clear optical wall of the eye. With time the eye with keratoconus becomes more misshapen and unable to produce a clear focus of images, even with glasses. Hard contacts may help vision at first but do not stop disease progress and become more painful and less effective with time. Corneal transplants can be performed, healing is slow, and even then there can be recurrence of the condition. Estimates are that keratoconus affects 1 in 2000 people, may begin as early as during teen years and worsens during adult life. Rarely, a variant of this disorder can even occur with blurring of sight in some people who had vision corrective surgery in the past. Since the tendency for keratoconus is genetic, family members of keratoconus sufferers should be checked themselves, as it is easier to treat the condition at an earlier stage.
Cross-linking now is added on an investigational basis to existing treatments for keratoconus. These treatments include Intacs intra-corneal rings to brace and reshape the cornea and contact lenses to cover the irregular areas of the cornea and provide better vision when worn. Further information can be found on http://www.ICanSee.com or by calling 1-800-I-CAN-SEE (1-800-422-6733).
Robert L. Epstein, MD
SOURCE Mercy Center for Corrective Eye Surgery