PURPOSE: To compare 1-year transepithelial corneal collagen cross-linking with iontophoresis (I-CXL) outcomes with standard CXL (S-CXL) epithelium-off for progressive keratoconus. METHODS: Forty eyes of 40 patients with progressive keratoconus were included in this comparative, prospective clinical study. Corrected distance visual acuity (CDVA), spherical equivalent, cylinder refraction, cor-neal topography, Scheimpfug tomography, aberrometry, and endothelial cell count were assessed at baseline and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months of follow-up. RESULTS: Patients received either I-CXL (20 eyes) or S-CXL (20 eyes). Functional parameters (visual acuity and aberrometry) showed a significant improvement (P <. 05) after 6 and 12 months of follow-up in both groups. In the I-CXL group, the CDVA showed a rapid recovery of vision after 3 months (P =. 01) compared to baseline. Morphological parameters showed a significant reduction of maximum keratometry in the S-CXL group by -1.05 ± 1.51 diopters (D) after 12 months, whereas the I-CXL group curvature was stable (-0.31 ± 1.87 D). Minimum pachymetry values were stable even after 12 months of follow-up in the I-CXL group, whereas a significant corneal thinning 12 months following treatment was recorded in the S-CXL group (P <. 001). None of the patients had continuous progression of keratoconus or had to repeat CXL procedures. Endothelial cell counts did not change significantly (P >. 05). CONCLUSIONS: The 1-year outcomes suggest that I-CXL might be comparable to S-CXL in stabilizing the progression of the degenerative ectatic disease. Additionally, quicker improvement of functional parameters was reported in the I-CXL group.
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