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Arie L. Marcovich, Jurriaan Brekelmans, Alexander Brandis, Ilan Samish, Iddo Pinkas, Dina Preise, Keren Sasson, Ilan Feine, Alexandra Goz, Mor M. Dickman, Rudy M. M. A. Nuijts, Avigdor Scherz; Decreased Riboflavin Impregnation Time Does Not Increase the Risk for Endothelial Phototoxicity During Corneal Cross-Linking. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2020;9(6):4. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.9.6.4.
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To evaluate the riboflavin (RF) concentration and distribution in the corneal stroma and the risk for endothelial photodamage during corneal crosslinking (CXL) following 10- and 30-minute impregnation.
De-epithelialized rabbit corneas were subjected to impregnation for 10 and 30 minutes with different RF formulations. Human corneal endothelial cells (HCECs) were subjected to different RF concentrations and ultraviolet A (UVA) dosages. Assays included fluorescence imaging, absorption spectroscopy of corneal buttons and anterior chamber humor, and cell viability staining.
After 10 and 30 minutes of impregnation, respectively, anterior chamber fluid showed an RF concentration of (1.6 ± 0.21)•10−4% and (5.4 ± 0.21)•10−4%, and trans-corneal absorption reported an average corneal RF concentration of 0.0266% and 0.0345%. This results in a decrease in endothelial RF concentration from 0.019% to 0.0056%, whereas endothelial UVA irradiance increases by 1.3-fold when changing from 30 to 10 minutes of impregnation. HCEC viability in cultures exposed to UVA illumination and RF concentrations as concluded for the endothelium after 10- and 30-minute impregnation was nonstatistically different at 51.0% ± 3.9 and 41.3 ± 5.0%, respectively.
The risk for endothelial damage in CXL by RF/UVA treatment does not increase by shortened impregnation because the 30% increase in light intensity is accompanied by a 3.4-fold decrease of the RF concentration in the posterior stroma. This is substantiated by similar endothelial cell toxicity seen in vitro, which in fact appears to favor 10-minute impregnation.
This study offers compelling arguments for (safely) shortening RF impregnation duration, reducing patients’ burden and costly operation room time.
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