A Proven Treatment for Keratoconus
Intacs corneal inserts or sometimes called implants are a minimally invasive surgical option used primarily for the treatment of keratoconus. Intacs are two tiny, clear crescent-shaped pieces of a plastic polymer that are inserted into the cornea to reshape the front surface of the eye.
In July 2004, the FDA granted Intacs a Humanitarian Device Exemption for use in the treatment of keratoconus largely because of Intacs’ safety record. Additionally, with only a few treatment options available, such as corneal transplants, they where left with no other alternative available for keratoconus patients.
Intacs for myopia or keratoconus works by flattening corneal curvature.
The approval allows Intacs to be marketed for reduction or elimination of myopia and astigmatism in keratoconus patients where practical vision is no longer obtained with contact lenses or eyeglasses.
In early January 2006, the FDA formally acknowledged that Intacs implants are therapeutic devices that can be described in company literature as corneal implants, rather than prescription inserts.
These corneal implants are designed for long-term vision correction. If you are among the 4 percent of people who are not pleased with the results or you have troubling visual symptoms, you can ask the surgeon to remove the Intacs for good, or replace with different size implants as your prescription changes with age (there is an extra fee for second procedure).
If you have Intacs removed, vision tends to return to the way it was before surgery within three months. Those receiving replacement Intacs have attained good visual results, and no serious problems with repeating the procedure have been reported.
How Do Intacs Work?
For keratoconus patients, Intacs works by flattening the steep part of the cornea or cone as some call it to reduce vision distortions. Intacs are made of the same biocompatible material found in intraocular lenses used for cataract surgery, so there is little to no risk of adverse effects from the material.
Keratoconus, poor vision with glasses or contact lenses
- Procedure time: about 15 minutes per eye
- Typical results: crisper, clearer vision without glasses or contact lenses
- Recovery time: a few days to several months
In a very few cases, however, eye irritation, blepharitis or abnormal blood vessel growth in the cornea may occur. Also, Intacs may produce no corrective effect in fewer than 5 percent of individuals with keratoconus.
After Intacs Surgery
Most people have sharper vision the first day after surgery, but you may need a couple of days of relaxation to advance healing. You will not feel the ring segments; they are beneath the cornea’s nerve endings. Nor can others see them unless they look very closely into your eyes.
Results of these implants will depend on the degree of keratoconus in the individual. People with a slight case of keratoconus may not need any lenses for additional vision correction. People with moderate keratoconus may require glasses or soft contact lenses for improved vision.
For more advanced cases, rigid gas permeable contact lenses may be needed to improve vision or to delay or prevent the need for a corneal transplant.
Intacs can be very effective at changing the cornea and flattening the cone caused by keratoconus. However, if you have advanced keratoconus, Intacs cannot halt the progression caused by weakening of surface eye tissue responsible for corneal strength.
Are You a Candidate for Intacs?
If you are considering Intacs surgery for keratoconus, your first step is to have a comprehensive eye exam by an ophthalmologist who specializes in the procedure. He or she will examine your eyes and perform a number of measurements to determine if the procedure is likely to improve your vision.
After examining your eyes, your eye doctor can tell you more about Intacs. The cost of the procedure varies from surgeon to surgeon, but generally Intacs cost slightly more than laser vision correction.