Northwell Performs First Eye Procedure That May Prevent Corneal Transplants

Carolyn Shih, MD, MBA, MPH, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, performing crosslinking on keratoconus patient Ned Daily

Patients suffering from a degenerative eye disease known as keratoconus have a new option for care. Northwell Health’s Ocular Surface Center recently started offering patients corneal crosslinking. The procedure, which was approved earlier this year by the US Food and Drug Administration, involves the use of riboflavin drops and ultraviolet (UV) light to treat the disease.

Immediately following the FDA approval, Northwell became the first health system in the New York region to begin the Avedro® crosslinking procedure on patients with keratoconus, according to the manufacturer. Previously, crosslinking had been available in Canada, Asia and Europe, and was only available through clinical trials or was being done off-label in the United States.

“We’re one of the few sites in the country that now has the capability of offering the Avedro® cross-linking procedure, and this may prevent many patients from needing a corneal transplant,” said Ira Udell, MD, chair of ophthalmology at Northwell Health, and professor of ophthalmology at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine.

Patients with keratoconus have a misshaped cornea due to a genetic defect or from eye rubbing. The collagen in their cornea becomes overstretched and leads to blurred vision. The crosslinking procedure uses a combination of riboflavin drops and a specially designed machine to transmit UV light onto the patient’s eye to strengthen the cornea.

“This is a minimally invasive procedure that’s done in the office not in a hospital or surgery center,” said Carolyn Shih, MD, MBA, MPH, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. “Crosslinking is done under topical anesthesia so the patient is up and about quite quickly afterwards.”

For more information on the corneal crosslinking procedure contact: Northwell Health’s Ocular Surface Center (516)-470-2020.

About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 21 hospitals and over 500 outpatient practices. We care for more than 1.8 million people annually in the metro New York area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 61,000 employees – including 15,000+ nurses and 2,500+ doctors within Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. And we offer health insurance through CareConnect. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit