Intacs Corneal Rings
Reviewed by: Dr. David Evans
If you have been told that you have keratoconus, you’re probably anxious to address the issue and begin seeing clearly again. Enter corneal ring implantation, a safe, effective, quick procedure that is completely reversible. Corneal rings also may be an option if you have mild to moderate nearsightedness; however, thanks to advancements in technology, these days most patients with nearsightedness opt for LASIK.
Corneal rings, also called corneal ring segments or intrastromal corneal ring segments (ICRS), are small plastic devices implanted to alter the shape of the front portion of the eye to provide you with clear vision. In the U.S., Intacs are the most popular brand of corneal rings.
Watch an introductory video to learn more, or skip ahead to read about the benefits, risks, candidacy and cost of corneal rings.
Why Have Corneal Rings Implanted?
Corneal ring segments have a number of amazing benefits.
For one, the procedure time is very quick. Though you will need to remain at the surgical center for an hour or two, the actual implantation of corneal rings only takes around 15 minutes per eye.
Nearly 100 percent of patients who undergo this procedure meet the requirements for driving without corrective lenses following surgery, and more than half achieve 20/20 vision or better.
The procedure is also completely reversible. If for some reason you don’t like the results – or if your vision changes – the corneal rings can be taken out.
Implanting corneal ring segments is also very safe – and it’s now safer than ever thanks to advances in laser technology.
What’s more, you won’t feel your corneal rings, and other people won’t see them.
Corneal rings are made of a clear, biocompatible substance, so they can be left in the eye forever unless you have reason to remove them.
If you’re considering corneal ring segments to correct your nearsightedness, there are additional benefits. Specifically, if you are at high risk for a condition called ectasia, you may want to speak to your surgeon about the benefits of having corneal rings implanted, rather than having LASIK or another laser vision correction procedure. Corneal rings also eliminate the risk of tiny refractive errors that can arise as a result of LASIK.
Potential Risks & Complications
Like any surgical procedure, corneal ring implantation poses certain risks (most are rare), including:
- Reduced vision
- Glare or halos around lights
- Night vision
- Fluctuating vision
It’s also possible that you will need glasses for certain tasks following your procedure.
Most complications associated with corneal ring segments are temporary and go away on their own. And remember, if you do have problems with them, they can be removed.
Though corneal rings can be used to correct mild to moderate myopia (nearsightedness), they cannot correct hyperopia (farsightedness) or astigmatism.
Are You a Candidate for Corneal Ring Segments?
To be considered a good candidate for corneal rings you must be at least 21 years of age. Your vision must be stable for the year leading up to your surgery. Your eyes must be healthy, with no disease and no compromised vision stemming from injury.
You will not be considered a candidate for corneal ring implantation if you have severe myopia or astigmatism. In fact, patients with a measurement higher than -3.00 diopters of myopia and/or -1.00 diopters of astigmatism are not considered candidates.
Talk to qualified eye surgeon to learn if you are a candidate for corneal ring implantation.
What Do Corneal Rings Cost?
It depends on why you are having them implanted, and on whether you have insurance.
If you have medical insurance and are having corneal rings implanted to treat keratoconus, the procedure will likely be covered by your insurance.
However, if you are having the procedure to treat nearsightedness, it is unlikely to be covered because it is considered an elective procedure. In this case you can expect corneal rings to run you around $2,000 or more per eye. If you have vision insurance part of this may be waived.
Don’t not let cost be the primary factor in your decision. If you can’t afford the procedure, there are many financing options available. Talk to an experienced eye surgeon in your area to learn more.