Corneal cross-linking (CXL) FAQs

My eyes are quite painful and difficult to open. Is this normal?

The anaesthetic drops will wear off later on the day of your procedure, and your eye will be gritty, red and sensitive to light for several days. Everyone’s experience of pain is different, with some patients reporting very little discomfort and others describing the first few days as very painful. Your eyes could be light sensitive and many patients find sunglasses helpful. Some patients prefer to keep their eyes closed for a few days following the treatment. It is normal to experience fluctuating pain within the first two days after surgery. However, if you experience increasing pain three or four days after the procedure this could be indicative of infection and you should visit A&E.

My contact lens fell out after cross-linking. What should I do?

A soft contact lens is used at the end of the operation. It acts as a bandage to help reduce pain for the first few days. It should stay in day and night until you return to the clinic the following week for your check-up. If the lens falls out after the procedure (even on the way home on the day) there is not need to worry. Throw the lens away. Do not try to re-insert the lens. Continue the drops as prescribed.

My vision is blurred. Is this normal?

It is normal for your sight to be blurred for the first few weeks after surgery. Using lots of Hyabak will help smooth the surface of the cornea and improve the focusing. You can use as much Hyabak as you wish – the more you use within the first few weeks, the quicker the vision will recover.

How long will my vision be blurred after surgery?

Your vision will be variable for several months following the procedure. This is completely normal. Vision can also be affected by changes in light conditions, tiredness, computer use and dry eyes. In all cases, rest assured that these fluctuations do not indicate that the treatment has failed or that your condition is continuing to progress.

Should I rub my eyes?

No. Avoid disturbing or touching the front (cornea) of the eye in any way. Avoid rubbing your eyes firmly or vigorously when they are itchy. Put a drop of Hyabak in if it feels uncomfortable. Keeping these drops in the fridge will help to further alleviate many symptoms of itching and discomfort.

Should I use make up immediately after the procedure?

No. You should avoid this for at least the first week. It’s not putting the make-up on, it’s removing it that can be difficult. Any make-up should be removed with the eyelids open (look downwards when removing it from the top eyelid, and look upwards or forwards when removing it from the bottom lid). Avoid all contact with the clear cornea where the surface is healing.

How long do I need to take off work?

You may return to work when you feel comfortable. After cross-linking, most patients need approximately 1 week (sometimes longer) off work. Please make sure you carefully use the eye drops as instructed above, to optimize the outcome after surgery. You are likely to experience fluctuations in your vision for around 1 month which may in turn result in mild headaches. Use artificial tears every 1 - 2 hours when using a computer screen or reading in the first few weeks after surgery. Remember to take regular short breaks when using computers to prevent the onset of symptoms.

When can I update my glasses?

Your spectacle prescription will likely fluctuate for the first few months. We will test your prescription at 6-months following your surgery. You may visit your own high-street optician for a spectacle update after the first month, but if you can manage with your existing spectacles this will avoid unnecessary costs for you. Although most spectacle prescriptions stabilise after 3 months, evidence suggests that for some patients it can take up to 1 year. 

When can I start wearing my contact lenses again?

If you wear soft contact lenses, these should not be worn until you have finished the FML drops (i.e. after 4 weeks). If you wear hard lenses (rigid gas permeable, RGP), you may re-insert these from the second week onwards so long as the eye has sufficiently healed. We will be able to advise you of this at your first follow up appointment one week after the procedure. You may need to gradually build up the wear time again – try for a few hours initially, using lots of lubricants at the same time.

Can I exercise after the procedure?

For the first week please avoid running and aerobics (in case of injury or sweat running into the eyes).  

Can I shower?

Although you may shower or bath the evening following surgery if you wish, you should avoid getting water in your eyes until you have been checked at your one-week follow up appointment. For the first month you should also not swim in chlorinated water. Other non-contact sports can be resumed after the first week.

Can I travel?

It is advised that you do not fly any long-haul flights within the first week.  Please contact us should you be planning any flights within 7 days of surgery.

Can I drive?

Driving may be resumed after vision meets the driving standard (individual advice).

What if I get something in my eye?

Avoid dusty/smoky environments for the first 2 weeks. If you get dust, dirt or an eyelash in your eye, wash out with any of your eye drops.