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What are Intacs&Reg;?

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  • Written By: Matt Brady
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Intacs® are corneal implants that have been proven to help treat mild to moderate vision problems, such as near-sightedness and keratoconus. Sometimes referred to as intracorneal ring segments (ICRS), Intacs® are tiny, semicircular pieces of clear plastic polymer that rest between the tissue layers of the cornea, located on the eye's outer periphery. The inserts put pressure on the eye, causing it to flatten out. This helps to correct vision problems resulting from problematic curvatures of the eye. The procedure is often preferred not just for its effectiveness, but also for the minimal pain and recovery time associated with it.

Intacs® have the advantage of being quick and easy for eye doctors to insert as well as completely removable. It often takes no more than 15 minutes to surgically implant the ring segments. Pain from surgery is minimal, and patients typically need only a mild sedative to cope. Recovery is likewise relatively easy, with just a few days of rest and some minor special eye care being necessary. If treatment proves unsatisfactory, implants can be just as easily removed, with a high probability that vision will return to the state it was prior to the initial surgery.

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The plastic polymer semicircular implants are available in different weights and thicknesses, to account for varying levels of distorted vision in different people. The heavier and thicker the implants, the more the eye will flatten out. In some cases, patients may need to swap out one set of Intacs® for a differently weighted set. Replacing implants requires no more time or trouble than the original procedure.

In the United States, Intacs® have been approved for use by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They were the first surgical eye-correction procedure that didn't use lasers to be approved by those administrations. They were initially only approved to treat myopia, or near-sightedness. Over time, however, they were accepted as a more versatile surgical procedure that could also successfully treat keratoconus, in which the cornea bulges into a cone shape and causes distorted vision.

The cost of Intacs® is generally more expensive than laser surgery, as the procedure is associated with a slightly higher cost of materials and tools. The cost difference between Intacs® and laser surgery isn't great enough, however, to be a deciding factor, and prices tend to fluctuate from practice to practice and over time. Given that there isn't a huge price difference, the most important factor to consider when deciding between Intacs® and laser surgery is simply which procedure will better correct vision problems.

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