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Ophthalmology is a rapidly developing field of medicine. Every year more and more new methods of eye disease treatment appear, keratoconus being one of them. This is a degenerative process that causes the cornea to thin and become cone-shaped. This disease is treated with innovative cross-linking technology that prevents the progression of the disease. You can learn more about this from our article.



What is Cross-linking?

лечение кератоконуса кросс-линкингом

Cross-linking is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed to treat keratoconus. This procedure helps to strengthen and stabilize the deformed cornea of the eye.


It activates the process of producing new collagen bonds in the corneal tissue.


Corneal cross-linking is the only safe and affordable surgery that slows or fully stops progressive keratoconus. 


Visual acuity improves in 50% of patients after the intervention. They see 1 line higher on the ophthalmic measuring tables. Another 30% of people after the procedure see 2 lines better, and 10% see 3 lines better.

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Advantages of cross-linking abroad

    иконка галочки Cross-linking is performed by ophthalmologists with many years of experience in such interventions. They perform the procedure under local droplet anaesthesia. This not only relieves pain but also prevents the negative effects of general anaesthesia on the cardiovascular and other systems of the human body.  

    иконка галочки The risks of complications in leading international ophthalmology clinics are several times lower than in many developing countries. The doctors usually have more experience in performing this surgery.  

    иконка галочки Cross-linking is a light one-day surgery that does not require hospitalization. If necessary, the patient will stay in the hospital for no more than 2 hours.  

    иконка галочки Cross-linking is performed abroad on teenagers aged 14 years and above. The procedure is FDA approved for this age group. Early treatment prevents vision loss and corneal scarring as keratoconus worsens.

How is the cornea strengthened with Cross-linking surgery?

ход операции кросс-линкинг

Cross-linking is a two-step procedure. It is performed under local anaesthesia and lasts 1-1,5 hours. There are two main techniques for performing this procedure: 


    иконка галочки Epithelium-off cross-linking – cross-linking with corneal epithelium removal,  

    иконка галочки Epithelium-on cross-linking – surgery without removing the epithelium.  


The first option involves removing the outer layer of the cornea. This is necessary to allow medications to penetrate more deeply into the cornea.


The eye is dripped with riboflavin drops (vitamin B2) for 30 minutes. This medication acts as a photosensitizer by absorbing ultraviolet light. It protects the endothelial layer of the cornea and the back of the eyeball. The cornea is then irradiated with ultraviolet light for about 30 minutes. Riboflavin drops are administered regularly at this stage. Once treatment is complete, special contact lenses are placed on the eye. They remain in the eye until the epithelium has healed.

    In the second version of cross-linking, the epithelium is not removed. This reduces the risk of infection, postoperative pain, and the healing period. During the procedure, a stronger source of UVA rays is used. It provides the same corneal strengthening effect, but without surgery and in a shorter time.


Cross-linking is combined with other keratoconus procedures. For example, with the implantation of tiny arc-shaped Intacs corneal implants. They are used to reshape and stabilize the cornea in more advanced cases of keratoconus.

Complications of cross-linking

Corneal strengthening using the cross-linking method goes without any complications in 97% of patients. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed to avoid infection and inflammation.


In the first 5 days after surgery, there may be discomfort in the eye and eye pain from strong light. Medications and special glasses are prescribed to eliminate these temporary side effects. 


Immediately after the procedure, patients have decreased vision. This usually goes away within 3 months by itself. In rare cases, this lasts for about a year.


Some patients also experience swelling and clouding of the cornea. These are treated with eye drops or repeated interventions. If the corneal tissue is scarred, this defect can only be corrected by transplantation.

восстановление и осложнения кросс-лингинг

What is the cost of Cross-linking surgery for keratoconus abroad?

The cost of cross-linking surgery abroad is determined by several factors. Firstly, the price is influenced by the level of the medical centre. Secondly, the experience and qualification of the doctor. Thirdly, the pricing policy of the country chosen for keratoconus treatment. The procedure is cheaper in ophthalmological clinics in Turkey and Korea. Western European hospitals are a bit more expensive. The approximate price of cross-linking for one eye is:


Turkeyfrom $1,600
Koreafrom $1,800
Israelfrom $3,000
Germanyfrom €2,500
Spainfrom €2,000
Austriafrom €2,500

Leading experts in keratoconus treatment

Countries such as Turkey, Germany, Korea, Israel and Spain are considered leaders in keratoconus treatment abroad. Their ophthalmology centres are staffed by specialists who have performed thousands of successful surgeries to restore vision. Among such ophthalmologists are:

    Professor Suphi Acar

    The leading specialist in the treatment of keratoconus at the Batıgöz Clinic in Turkey. He has been practising for more than 29 years. The doctor treats patients of all ages. He specializes in minimally invasive eye surgery.

    Professor Manfred R. Tetz

    World-renowned German ophthalmologist with 30 years of experience. He practices at the Spreebogen Clinic. The doctor has performed more than 75,000 eye operations on patients of different ages.

    Professor Hüseyin Bayramlar

    The top corneal specialist at Dunyagoz Clinic. He performs cross-linking surgeries and corneal transplants. He has performed over 10,000 interventions in his practice. Dr Bayramlar has more than 25 years of experience.

    Dr Deok Jin Han

    Chief specialist in the treatment of eye pathologies at the Hangil Eye Clinic in South Korea. The doctor has been practising for over 22 years. He is an honorary member of the American Association of Ophthalmologists and the Korean Ophthalmological Society.

Where does Cross-linking surgery for the treatment of keratoconus abroad take





    иконка галочки Cross-linking is a minimally invasive procedure that uses ultraviolet light and eye drops to strengthen the collagen fibres in the cornea. It is indicated for patients with keratoconus, a hereditary degenerative lesion of the cornea that causes it to change shape. Without treatment, this pathology can lead to complete loss of vision in the affected eye. 

    иконка галочки Cross-linking stops the development of keratoconus and improves vision. The best experts for this procedure are Suphi Acar, Manfred R. Tetz, Hüseyin Bayramlar and Deok Jin Han. 

    иконка галочки The cost of cross-linking abroad depends on the level of the clinic, the doctor’s qualifications, surgical technique and the price policy of the country. The cheapest countries for this procedure are Turkey and Korea. Cross-linking costs from $1,600-$1,800 for one eye. 

    иконка галочки Patients most often choose clinics in Turkey, Germany, and Korea for keratoconus treatment. Among them, BatıGöz, DunyaGöz, Hangil, and Spreebogen hospitals are worth mentioning. Foreigners also choose the ophthalmology departments of major medical institutions: Sheba Hospital, the University Hospital of Cologne and the Vienna Private Hospital. 


To choose the right ophthalmology centre for keratoconus cross-linking treatment abroad, please contact our medical coordinators. We will suggest the best option according to your requirements and help with travel arrangements.

How is Cross-linking surgery performed and how much does it cost?

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