As a progressive disease that doesn’t affect every person’s eyes in exactly the same way, keratoconus has in the past been notoriously difficult to treat. However, recent treatment breakthroughs have provided new, effective treatment choices.
Keratoconus affects the shape of the cornea, or the front of the eye. Light must pass through the cornea in order to reach the lens, where it’s focused onto the retina, enabling us to see. In patients afflicted with keratoconus, the cornea weakens, and, as a result, thins along the edges and bulges in the middle, often off-center, and the surface of the cornea usually becomes irregular. This results in an irregular astigmatism, with light being focused improperly, leading to blurred or strongly impaired vision.
While keratoconus rarely causes complete blindness, it can cause severe vision problems, most commonly multiple images, with two or three images appearing even when using only one eye at a time. The irregularity of the corneal changes makes it difficult to supply glasses or even contact lenses that will satisfactorily improve your vision. Many keratoconus patients eventually resort to corneal implant surgery.
Treating Keratoconus with Intacs
Another treatment for keratoconus, not as invasive as a full corneal implant, is Intacs. Intacs are small, specially designed plastic inserts that are placed in your eye, beneath the cornea’s surface. They are designed to reshape the conical cornea into a more natural, round shape, greatly improving vision without resorting to the more complicated procedure of cornea replacement.
Advantages of the Intacs procedure include:
- Placing Intacs in the eye does not require removal of corneal tissue
- Intacs reshape your weakened cornea from the inside by providing additional structure and strength
- Recovery after the procedure is much shorter than after a corneal transplant
Placement of Intacs is fairly simple. Dr. Lewis uses anesthetizing drops on the eyes, and may also give you an oral sedative. You’ll want to have someone drive you home, but the procedure itself only takes about fifteen minutes. You might experience improved vision right away, but you’ll likely have to rest for a few days to allow the incisions to heal.