Keratoconus is a disease that causes a progressive thinning of the cornea, the clear front portion of the eye. As a result of this condition, the normal outward pressure from within the eye causes the cornea to progressively bulge into a cone-like shape. Keratoconus rarely results in total blindness although it can significantly impair vision and, according to experts, lead to the need for a corneal transplant in up to 20% of cases.
While nobody knows the cause of keratoconus, there is evidence that the disease has genetic origins, possibly made worse by environmental factors. It normally affects both eyes, though it typically progresses at different rates. In most people, keratoconus begins during their teen years and slowly worsens before stabilizing in their 30’s or 40’s.
Keratoconus is estimated to affect one in 2,000 people across all races. It is normally treated with rigid contact lenses to reshape and flatten the pronounced curve of the bulging cornea and to improve vision. A proper contact lens fit is crucial to obtain adequate vision and wearing comfort. Poorly fitting or outdated contact lenses can be uncomfortable and lead to additional complications like corneal abrasions, scarring or infection.
A Closer Look at Intacs
Intacs prescription inserts provide a unique new option to improve a patient’s vision and possibly defer a corneal transplant. Intacs are indicated for the correction of nearsightedness and astigmatism for patients with keratoconus, where contact lenses and glasses no longer provide suitable vision.
For those keratoconic patients who are contact lens intolerant, Intacs prescription inserts offer a less threatening option than a corneal transplant. Most physicians would prefer to delay a corneal transplant to make it the option of last resort. Intacs prescription inserts make this a possibility by improving functional vision, and possibly delaying the need for a corneal transplant.
Placing Intacs in the periphery of the cornea flattens the center by restoring the natural dome shape of the cornea to improve vision.
Imagine your keratoconic cornea as a tent with a curved top. If the sides are pushed out, the top is flattened slightly and the dome shape is restored.
The goal of the Intacs procedure is to provide the keratoconic patient with the ability to achieve improved functional vision with contact lenses or glasses and in some cases without them. In the few patients who later had a corneal transplant after having the Intacs procedure, their transplants were completed without any complications. Call Dr. John Frangie at (413) 363-2732 to see if Intacs are right for you.