Corneal Cross-Linking in Pediatric Patients: Evaluating Treated and Untreated Eyes—5-Year Follow-Up Results

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To evaluate the long-term results of corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) for treatment of pediatric keratoconus and the long-term outcomes of the fellow untreated keratoconic eye in patients younger than 18 years old.


A retrospective case analysis was performed on 88 eyes of 44 patients aged 18 years or younger, with keratoconus, who underwent CXL in at least 1 eye. Follow-up measurements, for the treated and untreated eye pair, taken up to 5 years after treatment, were compared with baseline values. Parameters included uncorrected distance visual acuity (UCDVA), best spectacle-corrected distance visual acuity (BCDVA), manifest refraction, pachymetry, and corneal topography and tomography.


Mean age of patients was 15.6 ± 2.1 years. For the treated eyes, during all years of follow-up, UCDVA improved significantly (from 0.83 ± 0.30 to 0.72 ± 0.28 logMAR; P = 0.01). Improvement in BCDVA was not statistically significant (from 0.28 ± 0.19 to 0.23 ± 0.15 logMAR; P = 0.06). The manifest cylinder showed a significant reduction (from 5.8 ± 3.6 to 4.3 ± 2.5 diopters; P = 0.006). There was no significant change in maximum keratometry. Average keratometry and corneal thickness reduced significantly (P = 0.009 and P = 0.002, respectively). Five patients had very mild corneal haze after CXL. For the fellow untreated eyes—during 5 years of follow-up, UCDVA showed a slight decrease that was not statistically significant. BCDVA, average keratometry, and maximum keratometry remained stable.


Our long-term follow-up study suggests that CXL is a safe procedure in the pediatric age, and there is no urgency in treating pediatric patients with keratoconus without proof of progression.

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