Intacs For Keratoconus Treatment
In 2004, the FDA approved the use of Intacs as a form of treatment for keratoconus. Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease of the outer surface of the eye known as the cornea. Keratoconus causes an irregular thinning of the cornea. The thinning of the cornea causes distortion and degradation of the quality of vision. The treatments available for keratoconus were limited to specialized rigid gas permeable contact lenses and corneal transplantation (please see our sections regarding keratoconus and corneal transplant). With the FDA approval of intacs for keratoconus there is now an additional option, for those who are unable to wear contact lenses, prior to corneal transplantation. Intacs provides an option to stabilize the cornea, improve vision, and prevent or delay the need for a corneal transplant.
Intacs Corneal Ring Segments
The Intacs procedure is an outpatient surgery. Intacs are two tiny half rings made from a bio-compatible plastic, that are inserted into the peripheral cornea, in order to modify the shape and contour of the front of the eye. By changing the curvature of the cornea, the segments create a smoother and more regular optical surface. This allows those with keratoconus to have improved vision, and to be better fit with glasses or contact lenses.
The actual procedure for the Intacs takes about one half an hour. Normally, patients will be given a mild sedative and anesthetic drops before surgery. Using the Intralase laser, a small opening and channels are made in the peripheral cornea. Intacs are inserted through this opening and into the channels so that they rest between layers of tissue in the cornea, outside the central visual axis.
The Intacs insertion will help change the curvature of the cornea, creating a better optical surface. The difference between Intacs and laser vision correction is that no corneal tissue is being removed to change the curvature of the eye. The rings are meant to be permanent but can be removed. If the patient wishes to have the Intacs removed, most often the cornea will return to its previous curvature over time.
Patients who wish to consider receiving the Intacs, have to meet the following criteria:
- You must have keratoconus.
- You must be contact lens intolerant are unable to be fit with contact lenses.
- You must be 21 years of age.
Patients will NOT be considered if they have one of the following:
- An autoimmune or immunodeficiency disease.
- Are pregnant or nursing.
- If you are taking prescription medication that may affect the healing of the cornea such as Imitrex or Amiodarone.
Positive Benefits Regarding Intacs
- They are no more visible in the eye than a contact lens
- There is no regular maintenance
- Intacs are reversible or removable
Intacs are not routinely covered by insurance. The cost is similar to that of LASIK surgery. We will however provide patients with printed materials and website information to help them obtain re-imbursement from their insurance carrier