Persistent Epithelial Defects and Corneal Opacity After Collagen Cross-Linking With Substitution of Dextran (T-500) With Dextran Sulfate in Compounded Topical Riboflavin

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Collagen cross-linking (CXL) is a commonly performed procedure to prevent the progression of keratoconus. Riboflavin is an essential part of the procedure, which facilitates both the cross-linking process and protection of intraocular structures. Dextran can be added to riboflavin to create an isotonic solution. This case report highlights the importance of compounding riboflavin with the correct dextran solution.


A retrospective case series.


Six eyes of 4 male patients with keratoconus aged from 20 to 38 years underwent CXL with substitution of 20% dextran (T-500) with 20% dextran sulfate in a compounded riboflavin 0.1% solution. Postoperatively, persistent corneal epithelial defects, stromal haze, and then scarring occurred. Corneal transplantation was performed for visual rehabilitation but was complicated by graft rejection followed by failure (n = 1 eye), dehiscence (n = 4), cataract (n = 2), post-laser ablation haze (n = 1), and steroid-induced glaucoma (n = 2). The visual outcome was <6/18 in all 6 cases because of irregular astigmatism and stromal haze. Thinning, vascularization, and scarring of the residual host tissue were noted.


Substitution of dextran (T-500) with dextran sulfate in riboflavin solutions during CXL results in loss of vision from permanent corneal opacity. Residual host changes may compromise the results of corneal transplantation.

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