Intacs Corneal Transplant: Intacs vs. Corneal Transplant
With two proven solutions for treating weakened or damaged corneas–Intacs and corneal transplant–it’s important to know how to determine which is the better choice.
A weakened cornea may be one that is thin and unable to maintain its shape and support structure. It may have an irregular bulge
Intacs Corneal Transplant: (keratoconus).
Where refractive error is the primary problem the two choices for correction, Intacs and corneal transplant can become a bit more complicated.
A new development in corneal transplant called the Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK) offers yet another alternative similar to corneal transplant.
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Intacs Corneal Transplant: Intacs
Intacs are crescent shaped inserts that are placed in the periphery of the stroma layer of the cornea. They lift the outer edges, which, in turn flattens the central cornea.
Either one or two are used, depending upon the amount of flattening that is needed. They come in various thicknesses allowing more or less flattening of the central corneal tissue. The procedure is also referred to as corneal ring implantation.
Flattening the cornea reduces nearsightedness and improves distance and intermediate vision. It also reduces the irregular bulge, a common indication of keratoconus. Intacs are removable making this procedure reversible.
It is also possible to change the size of the Intacs if the patient’s vision changes in the future. Once removed, the cornea will return to its preoperative state.
Intacs are implanted on an outpatient basis. Your vision is likely to be quite sharp immediately. Healing takes only a few days
compared to a corneal transplant (read more)
at six to twelve months. Intacs don’t affect future eye surgery options.
Candidates for Intacs are those whose prescription is stable, are over 21 years of age, and have keratoconus or mild nearsightedness. Cost for Intacs ranges from $1,500 to $2,500 per eye.
Intacs Corneal Transplant: Corneal Transplant
In the conventional penetrating keratoplasty (PKP), or corneal transplant, the patient’s central cornea is removed. A full-thickness cornea, obtained from the local eye bank, is surgically grafted in its place.
The transplant, however, will probably not provide perfectly clear vision because it is unlikely that it will fit the exact curvature of the recipient’s eye. Corrective lenses or
laser eye surgery
may be required to achieve clear vision.
A newer corneal transplant procedure classified as endothelial keratoplasty (EK), the DSEK, has received endorsement from the American Academy of Ophthalmology for its improvement in vision outcomes, stability and fewer risk factors than PKP.
This procedure transplants only a very thin layer of corneal tissue, the Descemet’s membrane, with a healthy donor transplant. Recovery is usually complete in one to six months.
Other variations of EK include Deep Lamellar Endothelial Keratoplasty (DLEK) and Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK). In DLEK the posterior part of the cornea is transplanted. DMEK is a variation of DSEK, transplanting the Descemet membrane, but has had better visual recovery than DSEK and within as little as three months.
There are also
available for people who have repeatedly rejected natural corneal transplants.
Corneal transplant candidates include patients whose corneas became scarred from infections, have corneal thinning or irregularly shaped corneas (keratoconus is one condition), corneal edema, genetic factors, or damage from other surgery or injury.
While a corneal transplant of any variety may sound like just the ticket, you should know that the
recovery and healing period
is six months to one year. That’s a long time to be out of work.
To read how long corneal transplants last.
So, your decision should consider alternative methods for correcting your vision. Other less invasive, less costly methods may do as good a job with fewer considerations.
If your vision prevents you from working, and a corneal transplant will restore your employability, give corneal transplants serious consideration. The same goes for affordability. If regaining your eyesight makes it possible to return to work, you will probably recoup the cost quickly. Corneal transplant can cost between $7,500 and $10,000 per eye.
Return From Intacs Corneal Transplant to Other Eye Surgery