Intrastromal corneal ring segments (ICRS), also known by the brand name Intacs, are small clear pieces of a medical-grade plastic that are surgically placed on the cornea. They act to press on the cornea, flattening it and changing the way that it refracts light. People may choose ICRS or other refractive surgery if they’re tired of the hassle of glasses or contacts, or don’t like how glasses or contacts look or feel. ICRS may also be used to correct certain types of corneal diseases, such as keratoconus, and is sometimes used after LASIK if a problem occurs with the cornea after the LASIK procedure.
If you’re choosing to have refractive surgery, make sure you’re choosing it because you really want it, not to please someone else or to fit an imagined ideal. No one else can make the choice for you; it’s your body, and you’re in charge of it. After you do your research and understand the procedure, if you believe that ICRS is right for you, then proceed. You can learn more about the ICRS procedure, its risks and benefits, in our Education Wiki.
The fee for ICRS is generally similar to or a bit higher than the cost of LASIK or similar surgeries. It’s around $2,000 to $2,500 per eye (if you’re having the procedure performed on both eyes, as most people do, then you should double the per-eye price to estimate your total).
Keep in mind that this is only an average; it varies by region and by individual surgeon, so you should check with the provider(s) you’re considering to determine their exact fee for the procedure. Ask what’s included in that fee, to make sure you aren’t surprised by extra costs when you get the bill later.
The price for the placement of ICRS should include your procedure and all the necessary follow-up visits. Because several follow-up visits are needed during the year after ICRS placement, you should make sure that these visits are included in the price of your procedure, or you could find that the cost of these visits adds significantly to your ICRS cost.
Will Insurance Cover It?
Whether or not your insurance will cover an ICRS placement procedure depends on the reason for having the procedure. If you’re having the procedure because you don’t want to wear glasses or contacts anymore, then your insurance will likely consider it an elective, cosmetic procedure, and will not cover it. However, if you’re having ICRS placed because you have a medical problem with your cornea, such as keratoconus or keratectasia, then it’s possible that your insurance will consider it to be medically necessary, and will cover it. If the corneal problem was a result of LASIK or other refractive surgery, then your medical insurance may not cover it, because it’s a complication of an elective procedure. If you believe that your ICRS procedure should be covered, you should call your insurance company to determine your coverage.
Keep in mind that medical insurance policies usually don’t cover vision care; a separate vision insurance policy is needed for that. However, even a vision insurance policy generally won’t cover refractive surgery; glasses and contacts are usually the only vision correction modalities that are covered.
What Are the Financing Options?
To many people, paying thousands of dollars up front seems impossible. However, if you don’t already have the money saved, you have many options available for financing. Many refractive surgery clinics offer financing plans for their patients. You can also get a medical credit card or other credit card, often with an attractive introductory interest rate; a medical loan, personal loan, or home equity loan from your bank; a loan from your 401(k); or loans or gifts from family and friends. Even if your credit isn’t great, you’d be surprised how many options you have. For more details about the financing options for your procedure, check out our Refractive Surgery Financing page.