Intacs: Believed To Slow The Progress Of Keratoconus.

What Is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a corneal disease that weakens and thins the cornea. As the disease progresses a bulge develops on the cornea distorting it into a cone-like shape.

The irregular astigmatism that results causes blurriness.

Because the cornea is already weakened, none of the laser eye surgery treatments are indicated. These can only further weaken the cornea as the laser destroys more corneal tissue.

Keratoconus Treatment

In early stages of the disease this is usually correctable with glasses. In later stages rigid gas permeable (RGP) contacts may be a viable solution. Other solutions are surgical interventions.

Since none of the refractive options are viable, this leaves either a corneal transplant or CK as surgical treatments. CK doesn’t treat the keratoconus but it may improve vision. CK uses radio waves to change the shape of the cornea in a manner similar to the way a drawstring bag works. By constricting the outer edges of the cornea, the cornea is drawn into a steeper arch, diminishing the irregular shape.

Two treatments show promise for strengthening the weakened cornea and improving vision. One of these is a non-invasive treatment called Crosslinking and the other is Intacs.

Crosslinking is still in clinical trials and not available in the U.S>. In this treatment the surgeon floods the eye with a solution of riboflavin, then exposes it to UHF light. It’s believed that collagen thickens and stiffens, and that the fibrils reattach to one another.

Intrastromal Corneal Ring Segments

Intacs™ (Intrastromal Corneal Ring Segments) are believed to slow the progress of keratoconus. These clear plastic rings are inserted under the cornea and add outward pressure around its mid-periphery. This flattens the center, reducing the distorted area of the cornea.

They are implanted through a small incision and placed about two thirds deep into the corneal tissue. Once inserted they can’t be felt and require no care or maintenance. They can be removed and replaced with another size if necessary. And they are nearly invisible.

After receiving implants, some patients are again able to wear contact lenses. Once the bulge is flattened contacts may once again fit properly.

Candidates for Intacs are over 21 years of age, have keratoconus and have stable vision.

Contra indications for this treatment, or reasons why these are not recommended include many of those for other refractive surgeries. These include:

  • Autoimmune or immunodeficiency diseases
  • Pregnancy or breast feeding
  • Ocular disease
  • Certain medications
  • Only about 5% of patients receiving this treatment claim they have no improvement in vision. The good news is that these can be removed, and vision will return to its previous level. Few problems have been reported from this treatment.

    The short procedure involves anesthetic drops to numb your eyes. Some patients also get a mild sedative. The surgeon creates a tunnel between the layers of corneal stroma.

    Then he inserts the arc-shaped Intacs into the tunnels. You will rest before you can go home, but will need a ride. But plan on resting for a few days. One study showed single segment Intacs to be more effective than double segment implants.

    Your vision will likely improve the day of surgery. In one study half the keratoconus patients achieved 20/40 uncorrected vision.

    If you have keratoconus, see your eye surgeon for more information.


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