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If you have been losing your battle against keratoconus, a progressive bulging of the cornea that causes rapidly worsening vision, then you should know about a state-of-the-art surgical option that might provide lasting relief. Tiny inserts called Intacs can effectively reshape the cornea, reducing the bulge that interferes with normal refraction of incoming light.
People with keratoconus, a weakening or thinning or the cornea that allows this tissue to bulge outward, often find that they have to keep changing their lens prescription to keep up with the progress of the disorder. For these patients, a brief surgical procedure to install Intacs may make good long-term sense. Intacs are thin, crescent shaped inserts made of a clear biocompatible material. Once they have been implanted, they work by exerting just enough pressure against the sides of the cornea to flatten out the exaggerated curvature caused by keratoconus. The thicker the implanted ring, the more flattening will occur. Your eye care provider may use one or two rings to achieve the best possible curvature adjustment.
The surgery itself takes only a few minutes as an outpatient procedure. The doctor makes a tiny cut along the surface of the cornea, in many cases using a precision laser device, so that the layers of tissues within the cornea may be separated. A centering guide placed on the eye allows the surgeon to line up the Intacs as precisely as possible along the peripheral zone of the cornea (outside your normal visual field). Once the Intacs have been implanted into the incision, the incision is sutured closed. You may be advised to give the eye a rest for a couple of days following surgery, but many patients enjoy sharper, clearer vision the very next day.
Intacs have several features that make them a safe, convenient choice for patients with keratoconus. The fact that they are made of the same biocompatible material as the lenses used for cataract surgery means that they are unlikely to cause irritation or other problems. If you are unhappy with the degree of vision correction provided by Intacs, you can opt to reverse the process and have the Intacs removed -- after which your cornea will eventually return to its previous curvature. Ask your eye care provider whether Intacs could prove helpful in taming your keratoconus symptoms.