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About this Article
Written by: Corey Crosser
Written on: November 1st, 2011
Tags: biomedical engineering, health & medicine
Thumbnail by: Edouard Spooner/Wikimedia Commons
About the Author
In Fall 2001, Corey was a junior majoring in Biomedical Engineering at USC and is a huge fan of snowboarding, sailing, and Pearl Jam. Corey also has corneal inserts.
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Volume II Issue I > Corneal Rings: A Revolutionary Invention in the Field of Corrective Eye Surgery
Corneal rings are micro-thin inserts that were recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in April 1999, for use in the correction of myopia and small degrees of astigmatism. This product of biomedical engineering offers patients another choice when searching for an alternative to glasses or contact lenses. The major advantage of corneal rings is the reversibility of the procedure as compared with other forms of corrective surgery.

An Alternative to Laser Eye Surgery

Blasting something with a laser in order to fix it may sound like a haphazard way to go about solving a problem, yet millions of Americans have paid good money to have just that done to their eyes in order to correct their vision. While many of these patients will swear by the results, the recent engineering of a new form of corneal implants may replace laser eye surgery in the years to come. These implants are called corneal rings and easily rank among the top medical innovations of the past century. Corneal rings are the newest viable option for people suffering from myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism (oblong shape of the cornea which can cause skewed vision).

What are Corneal Rings?

In medical terms, corneal rings are two micro-thin inserts made of polymethylmethacryla​te, the same biocompatible material that has been used for contact lenses for over 50 years [1]. In simpler words, corneal rings are two crescent shaped pieces of plastic that are inserted into the outermost layer of the eye, called the cornea (see Fig. 1). The first viable corneal rings were Intacs, developed by the company Keravision, and approved by the FDA in April of 1999 [1]. This recent approval makes Intacs the newest approved surgery available for patients seeking better vision, and according to Keravision's estimates, approximately 20 million Americans have vision that falls within the correctable range and are eligible for Intacs.
Edouard Spooner/Wikimedia Commons
Figure 1: Intacs after insertion.