Comparison of transepithelial corneal crosslinking with epithelium-off crosslinking (epithelium-off CXL) in adult Pakistani population with progressive keratoconus


PURPOSE The purpose of this study is to compare the safety and efficacy of transepithelial corneal crosslinking (CXL) with epithelium-off crosslinking (epithelium-off CXL) in the treatment of progressive keratoconus in adult Pakistani population. MATERIALS AND METHODS Sixty-four eyes of 64 consecutive patients of progressive keratoconus were included in this quasi-experimental study. Thirty-two eyes received transepithelial CXL with Peschke TE (0.25% riboflavin (Vitamin B2), 1.2% hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), 0.01% benzalkonium chloride) and 32 eyes received epithelium-off CXL with Peschke M (0.1% riboflavin (Vitamin B2) 0.1%, HPMC 1.1%.) The cornea was then exposed to ultraviolet A light at an irradiance of 3 mW/cm2 for 30 min. The primary outcome measure, clinical stabilization of keratoconus was defined as an increase of no more than 1D in Kmax at 1 year. Other parameters evaluated at baseline and 3, 6, 12, and 18 months postoperatively were uncorrected distance visual acuity (UDVA), corrected distance visual acuity (CDVA), spherical equivalent (SE), astigmatism (Ast), simulated keratometry, steep keratmetry (steep K), and corneal thickness at thinnest point (pachy thin). RESULTS Both epithelium-off CXL and transepithelial CXL groups showed a significant reduction in Kmax, steep K, simulated K, corneal pachymetry at all test points (P < 0.05) with significantly greater reductions achieved in epithelium-off CXL group at 18 months follow-up. The mean UDVA, CDVA, SE, Ast significantly improved in both groups (P < 0.05). The mean postoperative UDVA and CDVA between the groups were not significant at 12 months (P = 0.650, 0.018, respectively). Clinical stabilization was achieved in 94% of eyes in epithelium-off CXL and 75% of eyes in transepithelial CXL. In epithelium-off CXL, three eyes exhibited stromal haze resolved by corticosteroid treatment. No complication was documented in transepithelial CXL group. CONCLUSION Transepithelial CXL is not recommended to be replaced completely by standard epithelium-off CXL due to continued ectatic progression in 25% of cases. However, thin corneas, unfit for standard epithelium-off CXL, can benefit from transepithelial CXL.


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