Intacs® Corneal Inserts: An FDA-approved Treatment for Keratoconus

by: Advanced Laser | June 20, 2015

A patient undergoing an eye exam after being diagnosed with keratoconusKeratoconus can be a frightening disease, as it is progressive and has no known cure. While many patients have been able to achieve good results as their vision declines by wearing rigid gas permeable contact lenses, some eventually have to undergo corneal transplant surgery. However, some of these patients may be able to delay surgery with Intacs®, the micro-thin prescription corneal implants approved by the FDA in 2004 for the treatment of keratoconus under a Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE).

Intacs® have been used as a safe and effective treatment for mild myopia, with or without astigmatism, since 1999. They are made of the same biocompatible material used in intraocular lenses (IOLs), minimizing the risk of adverse reactions on the part of the patient. While Intacs® for keratoconus will not necessarily eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses, they could significantly delay the need for corneal implant surgery by eliminating the irregularities in the cornea associated with keratoconus.

Are you a suitable candidate for Intacs® for keratoconus? The only way to know for certain is to meet with Dr. John Belardo at Advanced Laser & Cataract Center for a confidential, one-on-one consultation at your earliest convenience.

What is keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease marked by a continual changing of the shape of the cornea. While the ideal cornea is perfectly round in shape, the cornea of a person with keratoconus becomes increasingly cone-like over time. As the corneal bulge becomes more prominent, vision becomes more and more distorted.

In the initial stages of keratoconus, visual distortions can generally be corrected with conventional glasses and contact lenses. Eventually, however, many patients switch to specialized contact lenses such as gas permeable contact lenses. Patients who cannot tolerate such contact lenses may require corneal transplant surgery.

Some patients are able to delay surgery by undergoing corneal crosslinking, which has been used in conjunction with Intacs® with good results.

How do Intacs® help to treat keratoconus?

Much like refractive surgery, Intacs® correct refractive errors by reshaping the cornea. However, unlike refractive surgery, Intacs® do not permanently alter the shape of the cornea through the removal of corneal tissue; rather, they temporarily flatten the cornea when they are inserted beneath its outermost layer. This is one of the greatest advantages of Intacs® – the treatment is reversible. By flattening the cornea, the cone-like protrusion can be made less prominent, which helps to restore vision. Again, glasses or contact lenses may continue to be necessary in order to see clearly. However, corneal transplant surgery can be delayed by years.

Eventually, however, corneal transplant surgery will be necessary. While Intacs® will improve vision temporarily in the patient with keratoconus, it is not a cure for the disease. The bulging of the cornea will continue to worsen, and the corneal tissue will only become weaker with time. Nevertheless, the procedure is safe, minimally invasive, and may even be covered by your medical insurance plan, making it potentially well worth your time and effort.

Learn More about Intacs® for Keratoconus

To learn more about Intacs® for keratoconus, please contact Advanced Laser & Cataract Center Oklahoma today.