Corneal crosslinking with riboflavin and ultraviolet A. I. Principles.

The ocular surface

PubMedID: 23583042

Raiskup F, Spoerl E. Corneal crosslinking with riboflavin and ultraviolet A. I. Principles. Ocul Surf. 2013;11(2):65-74.
Changes in the biomechanical properties of the human cornea play an important role in the pathogenesis of corneal ectatic diseases. Biomechanical investigation shows significant differences between human ectatic corneas and normal corneas, including decreased stiffness and reduction of collagen crosslinks in the ectatic cornea. Induction of crosslinks is a well-established procedure in polymer chemistry to increase the elastic modulus of materials. Crosslinking (CXL) in connective tissue can occur during aging and as a side effect of diabetes mellitus. CXL has been used medically to increase stability and reduce the biodegradation of collagen-based biomaterials for bioprostheses. CXL of the cornea using riboflavin and UVA light with a wavelength of 370 nm and a dosage of 5.4 J/cm² is a new approach that increases the mechanical and biochemical stability of stromal tissue. This technique combines the principles of CXL (chemical and nonenzymatic) and the biochemical mechanisms of photo-oxidative CXL with riboflavin as a photosensitizer. In this review, the enrichment of riboflavin in the stroma by standard (epi-off) and transepithelial (epi-on) CXL is discussed. The theoretical and experimental measurements of the absorption of UV light explain the stronger CXL effect in the anterior stroma and its importance for the prevention of damage to the endothelial cells. UV devices are described. Changes of the physical properties after CXL, as well as the cellular changes, are discussed. From these basic investigations, treatment parameters for effective and safe CXL are identified.