, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 1289-1296
Date: 23 Nov 2012

Structural response of human corneal and scleral tissues to collagen cross-linking treatment with riboflavin and ultraviolet A light


High success rates in clinical trials on keratoconic corneas suggest the possibility of efficient treatment against myopic progression. This study quantitatively investigated the in vitro ultrastructural effects of a photooxidative collagen cross-linking treatment with photosensitizer riboflavin and UVA light in human corneo-scleral collagen fibrils. A total of 30.8 × 2 mm corneo-scleral strips from donor tissue were sagittally dissected using a scalpel. The five analytic parameters namely fibril density, fibril area, corneo-scleral thickness, fibril diameter, and fibril arrangement were investigated before and after riboflavin–UVA-catalyzed collagen cross-linking treatment. Collagen cross-linking effects were measured at the corneo-scleral stroma and were based on clinical corneal cross-linking procedures. The structural response levels were assessed by histology, digital mechanical caliper measurement, scanning electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy. Riboflavin–UVA-catalyzed collagen cross-linking treatment led to an increase in the area, density, and diameters of both corneal (110, 112, and 103 %) and scleral (133, 133, and 127 %) stromal collagens. It also led to increases in corneal (107 %) and scleral (105 %) thickness. Collagen cross-linking treatment through riboflavin-sensitized photoreaction may cause structural property changes in the collagen fibril network of the cornea and sclera due to stromal edema and interfibrillar spacing narrowing. These changes were particularly prominent in the sclera. This technique can be used to treat progressive keratoconus in the cornea as well as progressive myopia in the sclera. Long-term collagen cross-linking treatment of keratoconic and myopic progression dramatically improves weakened corneo-scleral tissues.

Samjin Choi and Seung-Chan Lee contributed equally to this paper.