INTACS - intra-corneal rings

INTACS is short for intra-corneal rings. They are thin and clear and are inserted in the peripheral area of the cornea. They are prescribed by a doctor and they are inserted during a short process. You will not feel the INTACTS inserts when they are inserted. Moreover, they will not be evident when worn. These inserts can be removed anytime and they can also be replaced anytime. The INTACS lenses intend to reshape the curvature of the cornea from the inside and do not involve removal of corneal tissue. Removing and replacing of these lenses is not usual.

What are the conditions that INTACS can treat?


INTACS can treat myopia or what is also known as nearsightedness. The INTACS lenses are placed in the cornea where the curvature is altered. The shape of the cornea will return to its original state when the lenses are removed. In this way, the INTAC rings don’t change the cornea’s central visual axis. This is an advantage compared to other procedures which will alter the eye forever when tissue is cut from the cornea. The INTACS lenses can be removed although they are usually placed in the eyes with the intention of not removing them later on.

The INTACS lenses are made up of two tiny half rings similar to the outer edges of contact lenses and are manufactured using biocompatible plastic. This type of plastic is the type used for intraocular lenses, contact lenses, and the lenses that are used to treat patients who have cataracts. When the INTACS lenses are placed inside the cornea, you will hardly feel anything and notice anything.

The INTACS lenses are basically reshaping the curvature of your cornea which is the part that is responsible for clear vision. Nearsightedness is caused by excessive steepness of the curvature of the cornea. The light rays that enter the eyes are bent too much and they become too focused on the front of the retina instead of directly on to it. This will alter the vision of objects from afar and make them appear fuzzy. The reshaping of the cornea using the INTACS lenses will make it flatter and will eventually correct problems with your vision. Your nearsightedness will be addressed by making the light that enters your eye focus on the retina and thus, clearing up your vision.


Keratoconus is a disorder that arises due to the weakened layers of cornea in the eye. This will lead to progressive thinning and will eventually alter the pressure in the eye. The altered pressure will make the cornea bulge into a shape that resemblesa cone. This induces myopia and astigmatism which will make it hard for you to read and hard for you to drive. Keratoconus does not usually result in total blindness but one out of five patients will have to go through a corneal transplant at some point in time.

Keratoconus is usually treated by using stiff contact lenses that make the curvature of the cornea flatter. When the bulging of the cornea is improved, light is focused properly and vision is improved. In order to improve the shape of the cornea, the lenses have to be fit properly. They have to provide proper vision and they should be comfortable to wear. If the lenses are not fit properly, more complications can occur like scarring, infections, abrasions, and unwanted discomfort.

Keratoconus patients who are unable to use contact lenses are advised to get INTACS lenses. They will improve the vision of the patient. If a future corneal transplant is required for the eyes then it can be done even if the INTACS lenses are being used. The INTACS lenses are sometimes so effective that a future corneal transplant may be significantly delayed or may not even be needed at all. The INTACS lenses keep the cornea and the rest of the eye in proper shape. Consider using INTACS lenses if you are a keratoconus patient who is unable to tolerate the use of contact lenses.

Corneal Ecstasia

Corneal ecstasia is a disorder that is similar to keratoconus although they come from different causes. Corneal ecstasia is usually caused by an incorrect refractive eye surgery. The cornea either became too thin or too weak and thus, the internal pressure of the eye ends up as too much too handle. The cornea can expand or swell and lead to myopia. In order to restore clear vision, gas permeable contact lenses are needed. The INTACS lenses can be used just like the way they are used to treat keratoconus.

The Procedure

This type of procedure is usually done as an outpatient one. In order to reduce the discomfort in the eyes, anaesthetic eye drops are used. This kind of procedure will not take more than thirty minutes. First, the surgeon will make a tiny opening that is less than two millimetres. This incision will be made at the upper edge of the cornea underneath the eyelid. After the incision is made, the INTACS rings will be inserted one by one into their proper places. When the rings are in place, the eye will be stable.

Imagine the layers of the cornea like the layers of pad paper. When you separate the layers of the cornea, you are like separating the pages on a pad paper and making space in between them to insert the INTACS rings. These INTACS rings will reshape the curvature of your cornea in order to focus light properly on the retina. The objects from afar that used to appear blurry will now become clear. You will be able to return to your day to day activities after the procedure.

What will happen after the procedure?

You will notice that there is a small stitch in the cornea area after the procedure. You will be required by your doctor to put corneal drops on your eyes for a couple of weeks until the stitches are finally removed. Your stitches will be removed after three months.

Some people will usually feel grittiness in their eyes for a couple of hours. Others may feel that their eyes are irritated. This can go on for a couple of days. Your vision should return to normal quickly if the procedure was used to treat myopia. However, if the procedure was used to treat Keratoconus, it may take a couple of months before your vision improves.

Putting eye drops on your eyes for a couple of weeks will be mandatory. You will also be required to visit your doctor as often as possible. Visits may be every month, every quarter, or maybe semi-annually.

What are the benefits that can be derived from INTACS?

Here are some of the benefits that can be derived from INTACS

  • you will notice an improvement in your vision immediately
  • no tissue will be removed during the procedure which makes it less invasive than laser eye surgery
  • you will not feel the INTACS rings because they are situated in the cornea area under the nerve endings
  • the procedure is safe and effective when used to treat mild nearsightedness
  • you will not worry about the maintenance of INTACS rings
  • the treatment is flexible which means that the INTACS rings can be removed or replaced at any time. If your vision changes then the INTACS rings can be adjusted to fit you properly

Who is suitable for an INTACS procedure?

Here are some of the guidelines on who is suitable for INTACS

  • INTACS requires a prescription in between 1 and 3 diopters and nothing more than 1 diopter of astigmatism
  • you must be more than twenty one years old to go through the procedure
  • your eyes must be healthy and they should be free from any diseases or injuries
  • if you have AIDS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or any auto immune deficiencies then you will not be able to go through INTACS surgery
  • if you are pregnant or if you are breast feeding then you will not be able to go through this procedure
  • those who are taking prescription medications that will affect the healing of the cornea should not go through an INTACS procedure
  • if you have herpes infection in your eyes then you can not go through an INTACS procedure
  • if you are insulin dependent then you can not go through an INTACS procedure

What are the risks that you take when you go through an INTACS procedure?

Here are the risks that you have to take when you go through an INTACS procedure

  • difficulty in seeing at night
  • over correction
  • under correction
  • scarring in the area of the rings
  • extrusion of the rings
  • induced astigmatism
  • reduced sensation in the corneal area
  • anterior chamber perforation while the procedure is being done
  • double vision
  • infections
  • fluctuation of your vision for distant objects
  • glaring
  • blurry vision
  • halos
  • corneal blood vessels
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