The goal of the Intacs procedure is to provide the Keratoconus patient with the ability to achieve improved functional vision with contact lenses or glasses and in some cases without them.
In the few patients that later required a cornea transplant, after having the Intacs procedure, their transplants were completed without complication following removal of Intacs. Intacs may provide an effective option to improve one’s vision prior to considering a cornea transplant. Intacs were originally designed and FDA approved to correct mild nearsightedness. Through the collaboration between physicians and Addition Technology, Intacs have emerged as a new therapy for treating patients with Keratoconus. Your eye doctor is the best person to consult with regarding whether this new and exciting option for treating Keratoconus is right for you if you suffer from impaired vision due to Keratoconus.
The Intacs Corneal Implant Procedure
Prior to any surgical procedure it is common to experience a degree of anticipation and anxiety. It may be comforting to know that the Intacs procedure is far less invasive than a corneal transplant or many other surgical procedures of the eye and the Intacs success rate is high. The surgeons performing the procedure are typically corneal surgeons, having expertise with Keratoconus. Each surgeon has also undergone a rigorous training program specific to Intacs for treating patients with Keratoconus.
Before the Procedure
Typically, your ophthalmologist, possibly working in tandem with an optometrist will have you undergo a thorough eye examination. Your examination will include a variety of standard ophthalmic tests for this type of procedure, as well as general medical tests and a review of your specific medical history.
The Intacs Corneal Implant Procedure
Anesthetic drops are used to numb the eye, which is held open throughout the procedure to prevent blinking.
- Step 1: A single, small incision is made in the surface of the cornea.
- Step 2: The eye is prepared for Intacs placement. To stabilize your eye and ensure proper alignment of the Intacs inserts, the centering guide is placed on the surface of your eye. During this time, inner layers of the cornea are gently separated in a narrow circular area to allow for Intacs placement.
- Step 3: The Intacs inserts are gently placed. After the second Intacs insert is placed, the small opening in the cornea is closed.
- Step 4: The procedure is completed.
The placement of Intacs inserts remodel and reinforce your cornea, eliminating some or all of the irregularities caused by keratoconus in order to provide you with improved vision. Follow-up visits will be required to monitor the healing process and evaluate the visual benefits of the procedure. Even after a successful procedure, glasses or contacts still may be required to provide you with good vision. As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks, including infection. Some patients experience visual symptoms including difficulty with night vision, glare, halos, blurry and fluctuating vision.
In the U.S., corneal tissue is readily available for transplant surgery (unlike outside the U.S.). The procedure requires the removal of your corneal tissue, where the disease is most prevalent, and is surgically replaced with donor corneal tissue which is then sutured into place. The procedure takes between one to two hours and will require multiple follow-up visits to assess the healing process to apply anti-rejection medications, complete the removal of the sutures and to perform a refractive examination and fitting for glasses or contact lenses. The overall recovery time differs by individual, however, the medical community indicates the recovery time can take more than a year.