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Olivier Richoz, Arthur Hammer, David Tabibian, Zisis Gatzioufas, Farhad Hafezi; The Biomechanical Effect of Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking (CXL) With Riboflavin and UV-A is Oxygen Dependent. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2013;2(7):6. https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.2.7.6.
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In an attempt to reduce treatment time in corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) with riboflavin and ultraviolet-A (UV-A), recent protocol modifications include shorter irradiation times at higher fluence, while maintaining constant total applied energy (Bunsen-Roscoe law of reciprocity). While such parameter changes might produce similar biological results within a certain range, the limits of reciprocity are unknown. Limitations in the corneal oxygen diffusion capacity and its potential impact on the efficacy of CXL, raise concerns regarding the efficiency of high-fluence CXL, and also of transepithelial CXL.
Porcine corneas were treated with an epithelium-off CXL at a fluence of 9 mW/cm2 under two different atmospheres: one with a regular oxygen content (21%) and another in a helium-supplemented, low-oxygen environment (<0.1%). Untreated corneas served as controls (n = 20 each). Five-millimeter corneal stripes were prepared and biomechanical stiffness was measured using an extensometer.
Corneas cross-linked under normal oxygen levels showed a significant increase in biomechanical stability (14.36 MPa ± 2.69 SD), whereas corneas treated similarly, but in a low-oxygen atmosphere showed a Young's modulus similar to untreated controls (11.72 MPa ± 2.77 SD).
The biomechanical effect of CXL seems to be oxygen dependent. This dependency will be of particular importance in high-fluence and transepithelial CXL and will most likely require major protocol modifications to maintain the efficiency of the method.
Translational Relevance: :
The oxygen dependency of CXL shown here raises concerns about the effectiveness of high-fluence and transepithelial CXL. Both methods were introduced to clinical ophthalmology without thorough validation.
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