PACK-CXL vs. antimicrobial therapy for bacterial, fungal, and mixed infectious keratitis: a prospective randomized phase 3 trial

the PACK-CXL Working Group

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20 Scopus citations


Background: Infectious keratitis is a major cause of global blindness. We tested whether standalone photoactivated chromophore corneal cross-linking (PACK-CXL) may be an effective first-line treatment in early to moderate infectious keratitis, compared with standard antimicrobial treatment. Methods: This is a randomized, controlled, multinational phase 3 clinical trial. Participants in five centers in Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, and China, aged ≥ 18 years, with infectious keratitis of presumed bacterial, fungal, or mixed origin, were randomly assigned (1:1) to PACK-CXL, or antimicrobial therapy. Outcomes measures included healing, defined as time to re-epithelialization of the corneal epithelial defect in the absence of inflammatory activity in the anterior chamber and clearance of stromal infiltrates. Treatment success was defined as the complete resolution of signs of infection. Results: Between July 21, 2016, and March 4, 2020, participants were randomly assigned to receive PACK-CXL (n = 18) or antimicrobial therapy per American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) guidelines (n = 21). No participants were lost to follow-up. Four eyes were excluded from the epithelialization time analysis due to treatment failure: two in the antimicrobial therapy group, and two in the PACK-CXL group. Success rates were 88.9% (16/18 patients) in the PACK-CXL group and 90.5% (19/21 patients) in the medication group. There was no significant difference in time to complete corneal re-epithelialization (P = 0.828) between both treatment groups. Conclusions: PACK-CXL may be an alternative to antimicrobial drugs for first-line and standalone treatment of early to moderate infectious keratitis of bacterial or fungal origin. Trial registration This trial is registered at,

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalEye and Vision
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Corneal cross-linking
  • Corneal melting
  • Infectious keratitis
  • Photoactivated chromophore

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)


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