Intacs, or corneal inserts, received FDA approval for treating keratoconus in August 2004. These tiny plastic inserts are placed just under the eye's surface in the periphery of the cornea and help re-shape the cornea for clearer vision. Intacs may be needed when keratoconus patients no longer can obtain functional vision with contact lenses or eyeglasses.
Several studies show that Intacs can improve the best glasses-corrected visual acuity (BSCVA) of a keratoconic eye by an average of two lines on a standard eye chart. The implants also have the advantage of being removable and exchangeable. Intacs might delay but can't prevent a corneal transplant if keratoconus continues to progress.
While Intacs has been shown to have some positive outcomes in certain cases, we feel that the potential benefits are too unpredictable to confidently offer this treatment to our patients. Intacs have been shown to reduce astigmatism and improve visual acuity, but in some cases, there may be little or no improvement. For this reason, we prefer to treat patients who have keratoconus with the corneal cross-linking procedure.