Keratoconus is an uncommon condition that causes a progressive thinning and bulging of the cornea, the clear front portion of the eye. As this condition progresses, the cornea develops a cone-like bulge, altering the shape and distorting vision. Keratoconus usually affects both eyes, however the progression and symptoms may differ in each eye. Blindness rarely occurs as a result of keratoconus although vision may become significantly impaired. According to experts, keratoconus leads to corneal transplantation in 20% of cases.
The cause of keratoconus is unknown but some researchers believe there may be a genetic link since an estimated 10% of patients with keratoconus have a family member with the disease.
Approximately 1 in 2,000 people across all races are affected. For most people, keratoconus manifests in the teen years and progressively worsens before stabilizing in the 30s and 40s. Generally glasses are used to correct vision in keratoconic patients. Rigid contact lenses may be used if good vision cannot be achieved with glasses. RGPs are contoured to address the cone-like shape of the cornea thereby improving vision. A proper fitting lens is vital in providing a comfortable fit and adequate vision.
A relatively new option for keratoconic patients is placing crescent-shaped acrylic inserts (Intacs) in the midperiphery of the cornea. This has shown to be an effective treatment for some keratoconic patients.
Intacs (for Keratoconus)
Intacs® corneal implants provide an option to improve vision and postpone a corneal transplant in most patients with keratoconus. When contacts and glasses can no longer provide adequate vision, Intacs may be indicated.
Intacs may provide functional vision to the patient with keratoconus, thereby potentially delaying the need for a corneal transplant, which most Eye MDs consider as an option of last resort.
Benefits of Intacs for Keratoconus
- Safe, replaceable, removable
- Decreases nearsightedness and astigmatism associated with keratoconus
- A more natural dome shape is restored to the cornea
- A few days of recovery compared to months for a corneal transplant
- May postpone the need for a corneal transplant
- A reversible alternative to LASIK for mild myopia
- May be used to augment previous laser vision correction
- May be paired with the Visian ICL to provide vision correction to people who are not LASIK candidates