An alternative way to treat keratoconus is through the use of prescribed micro thin inserts called INTACS. While it was originally approved for the correction of minor degrees of myopia, or nearsightedness, INTACS has since been given the green light to treat keratoconus.
The ultimate aim of INTACS is the alleviation of one’s vision problems brought about by keratoconus. As keratoconus is characterized by the thinning of the cornea that has been shaped like a cone, the use of INTACS will reshape, flatten and strengthen the cornea to allow for better vision. While one may still require glasses or contact lenses for the functional use of the eyes, hopefully Corneal transplants will be avoided.
How Are INTACS Done
Thin, plastic and semi circular INTACS rings are inserted just below the eye surface in the general area of the cornea. This is done through the following steps listed below:
1. A holder or clamp will be placed to support the eyelids. This will prevent the blinking of the eyes that may compromise the procedure.
2. Topical drops that will numb the area will be applied.
3. A tiny incision is then cut into the surface of the cornea using an intercorneal tunneling instrument. While the incision can be done mechanically, surgeons also have the option of doing it by using laser technology. The method to be used will depend on the situation as determined by the surgeon.
4. A guide will be placed for a few minutes on the surface of the eye. This will not only stabilize the eyes, but will also ensure the proper centering and alignment of the INTACS to be inserted.
5. The layers of the cornea where the INTACS are to be inserted will be separated on the outer part.
6. The INTACS will finally be inserted. Depending on the gravity of the keratoconus and the condition of the cornea, there are people who may require the use of more than just one INTACS plastic inserts.
7. Once placed properly, the opening done in the cornea will be stitched up.
8. A clear plastic shield must be worn initially for protection.
9. Apply eye drops to avoid infection and inflammation.
The entire procedure should take not more than 30 minutes. Bear in mind, however, that this form of treatment for keratoconus may entail more than just one procedure. Follow up checkups must be done, as additional treatments may be needed to optimize and further enhance the result. The INTACS insert itself may require a change in both size and position.
Your vision for the first few days after the surgery may fluctuate from time to time. Generally, however, the improvement in one’s sight can be felt almost immediately if they work properly.
Risks and Side Effects of INTACS
Just like any medical procedure, inserting INTACS lenses to treat keratoconus may yield some problems and side effects. Glare, haloes, night vision problems and blurred vision may be felt. Additionally, infections may come up that will require the removal of the inserts. These risks, however, are rare.
Intacs Have Evolved
Intacs were developed over 10 years as an alternative to laser eye surgery for the correction of myopia (short-sightedness). They proved to be unpredictable for this use but did find a use for keratoconus. In the last few years many corneal surgeons have started to use Kera Rings, which seem to be more effective in reducing the bulge of keratoconus. They also potentially come with more glare and haloes as they are placed closer to the pupil.
Remember this; even though Intacs or Kera Rings can work, it is imperative to try all sorts of contact lens that have been fitted by a contact lens expert first. The reason is that if the Intacs or Kera Rings do not work (this happens at least 50% of the time) going back to contact lenses usually can be a little tricky.
We have also experienced quite a few patients that require the INTACS to be removed as if not implanted properly that can cause more haloes and disturbances to vision. Like all procedures you need to see a practitioner that has your best interest in mind and is also an expert in the keratoconus arena.