[Studies on the stabilization of the cornea in rabbits]

Ophthalmologe. 2000 Mar;97(3):203-6. doi: 10.1007/s003470050515.
[Article in German]


Background: The mechanical stabilization of the cornea in keratoconus may delay progression of this disease. The cross-linking techniques optimized in corneas of enucleated porcine eyes were investigated under in vivo conditions in rabbits to estimate the biocompatibility and duration of the stiffening effect.

Methods: Twenty-eight rabbits were treated monocularly, the fellow eye serving as control. The epithelium was mechanically removed and 19 eyes were treated with riboflavin plus ultraviolet irradiation (365 nm, 2 mW/cm2) for 45 min and 9 eyes with 0.075% glutaraldehyde for 20 min. After treatment, the eyelids were sutured for 3 days. The healing process was controlled by slit-lamp examination and photographically documented. After 1 month, 20 animals and after 3 months 8 animals were sacrificed, the eyes enucleated, and the stress-strain relation of the corneas measured and compared to the fellow eye.

Results: The epithelium was closed after 4-5 days. The transparency of the corneas remained clear during follow-up, and there were no signs of inflammatory reaction. Stress for a strain of 6% was higher in the treated corneas by a factor of 1.3 +/- 0.66 (P = 0.319) in the glutaraldehyde group and by a factor of 1.6 +/- 0.75 (P = 0.0408) in the riboflavin group at 1 month, and by 1.3 +/- 0.48 (P = 0.07) at 3 months after treatment.

Conclusions: The cross-linking technique using riboflavin plus UV irradiation is suitable for at least temporarily stiffening the cornea in vivo and seems to be a promising method for conservative treatment of keratectasia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cornea / drug effects
  • Cornea / physiology*
  • Cornea / radiation effects
  • Corneal Transplantation
  • Disinfectants / pharmacology
  • Glutaral / pharmacology
  • Keratoconus / physiopathology*
  • Keratoconus / therapy
  • Materials Testing
  • Rabbits
  • Riboflavin / pharmacology
  • Swine
  • Time Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Disinfectants
  • Glutaral
  • Riboflavin