What are ICRS?
Intrastromal corneal ring segments, or ICRS, are devices made of a special plastic that can be inserted within the cornea to change its curvature. This alters the way that the cornea bends light, which can lead to improved vision. ICRS is most commonly used in certain types of corneal problems, such as keratoconus or keratectasia. For uncomplicated myopia (nearsightedness), LASIK or other laser corneal surgery is more commonly used.
If you’re choosing 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 are right for you, then proceed. To help you in your decision-making process, we have some information about the risks and benefits of ICRS at Intrastromal Corneal Ring Segments (ICRS): Risks and Benefits.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential elective procedure with your own doctor(s), including your primary care physician and the doctor who will perform your procedure if you decide to proceed.
How it’s done
You will be reclining in a surgical chair during the procedure. You will receive several drops of numbing medication in your eye. Next, an eyelid holder will be placed that prevents you from blinking during the procedure.
An incision is made partway through your cornea. Tunnels are then created in the cornea, either using a laser or using a small mechanical device inserted through the corneal incision. The tunnels do not cut the cornea, but rather are created between different layers of the cornea.
The ring segments are then placed into the tunnels. They are made of a medical-grade plastic called PMMA, which is also used in dermal fillers and other medical devices. Two ring segments are placed, one on each side of the pupil; together, they nearly form a ring around the pupil, but they don’t quite touch each other at the ends. Once the ring segments are placed, the corneal incision is closed with tiny dissolvable sutures, and a protective shield is placed over the eye.
Preparing for the procedure
Choosing your clinic
When choosing an eye surgeon for your refractive surgery, you want a highly-trained professional with experience in this type of surgery. A fellow of the American College of Surgeons has received training in surgery (look for the acronym FACS), and a member of the American Board of Ophthalmology has training and experience specifically in the surgical and nonsurgical care of eye diseases. Also, choose a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable and safe, and who listens to you and tries to understand your goals. If you have friends who’ve had refractive surgery, and you like their results, ask for a referral. While cost may be a consideration, don’t allow this to override more important factors in your decision. Your safety and the quality of your results are worth a little extra spending.
For more help in your search for a refractive surgeon, visit our How to Find the Best Refractive Surgeon page. At Doctor Review, you can also search providers for patient reviews to help you find the very best.
Getting ready for the procedure
For at least a few weeks before your refractive surgery, you’ll need to stop wearing contact lenses and switch to glasses. Contact lenses can distort your corneas by pressing on them, which could lead to inaccurate measurements, meaning that the outcome of your surgery won’t be ideal.
Also, in order to minimize the amount of debris that’s in your eye during your surgery, you should skip using any eye creams or makeup the day before and the day of your surgery. Otherwise, there could be buildup in your eye, leading to inaccuracies during your procedure.
After the procedure, you’ll need a family member or trusted friend to drive you home. You should plan to spend the rest of the day resting.
You will be given a transparent eye shield to wear over the treated eye(s). The shield is intended to remind you not to touch or bump your eyes, as any touching of the eye could damage the cornea and cause it to heal incorrectly. You will need to wear the shield full time for two days, and then should wear it at least at night for several more days, though wearing it during the day may provide extra safety for your eye. You will also be given eyedrops, which you will need to use several times a day; the drops keep your cornea moist as it heals, and help to prevent infection and inflammation.
It will take three to six months for healing of your eye(s) to occur. At this point, your vision will stabilize, and the side effects from the healing will resolve.