How painful is recovery from Intacs surgery?
MAR 17, 2022
I am due to have intrastromal corneal ring segments (or Intacs) put into my left eye. While the results are quick and the recovery relatively short, can you give me some insight into how painful the couple of days after the operation are? I had corneal cross-linking done and that was very painful, but I am told this is less so.
Intacs insertion is done to correct refractive errors like nearsightedness or astigmatism or for keratoconus (cone-shaped cornea). Small, plastic semi-circular rings are placed beneath the surface of the cornea, which help smooth the shape of the cornea. First, a blade or laser is used to make the channels for the rings to sit in. Then, the rings are inserted. Finally, sutures (stiches) are placed to close the incisions.
Topical anesthesia (painkiller) is given, which minimizes pain. Most patients feel a pressure sensation and tugging on the eye as the channels are created and rings are inserted. A small pinch may felt as the suture is placed. In the days after the procedure, you may feel a foreign body sensation (as if something is in the eye), light sensitivity, and tearing as the incision heals. Usually Tylenol or comparable over-the-counter painkiller is enough to control the pain.
In epi-off cross-linking (the most common variant in the U.S.), the total surface layer of the cornea is removed, which can be quite painful as it heals. By contrast, Intacs only require a small incision, which heals quickly and with much less discomfort.