Implantable Contact Lenses
Implantable contact lenses (ICLs) correct vision in much the same way that external contact lenses do, except ICLs is placed inside the eye where they permanently improve vision. ICLs are also similar to intraocular lenses, which are used during cataract surgery to replace the eye’s natural lens. However, during ICL surgery, the natural lens is untouched and works with the implanted lens to correct vision. ICLs give those who are not candidates for laser vision correction an option for permanent vision correction.
How Do Implantable Contact Lenses Work?
Implantable contact lenses are inserted through a small incision in the cornea and placed behind the iris and in front of the natural lens. The ICL procedure is performed in less than 20 minutes, recovery time is usually less than 2 days, and any discomfort would be mild. Improved vision is often noticed the same day of surgery, and patients are completely healed within a month.
These thin, pliable lenses can be an alternative to LASIK surgery and are used to correct conditions that laser surgery may be unable to correct, such as extreme myopia (nearsightedness). The ICL procedure is virtually pain-free. In addition, 95% of patients can see as well as they did use corrective lenses before surgery and 40% can see better.
Am I A Candidate For Implantable Contact Lenses?
Because of a high degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness, a person may not be a good LASIK candidate. One of the main benefits of ICLs is its ability to correct severe degrees of refractive error. Other benefits of ICLs include a proven record of safety, effective results, and the convenience of not having to rely on glasses and contacts. One of the greatest safety-related benefits of ICLs is the fact that, unlike LASIK surgery, the implantation of an ICL does not physically alter the cornea. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved with ICLs; however, the occurrence of adverse effects is rare.
Previously hindered by glasses and contacts, patients, after ICL implantation, are able to more thoroughly enjoy activities, particularly water sports. With a reduced dependence on corrective eyewear, ICL patients experience freedom from the clutter of contact lens solutions and supplies and also from the burden of having to keep track of their glasses. Patients also enjoy the convenience of the procedure’s reversibility. They feel more comfortable undergoing the surgical procedure knowing that they are not permanently altering their corneal tissue.
The FDA-approved Visian ICLTM has a proven track record for delivering outstanding results. The benefits of the implantable contact lenses can be seen in the vision correction achieved after the procedure. In the Visian ICLTM clinical trial, 95% of participants achieved 20/40 or better vision. During the three-year follow-up, 60% of the ICL patients experienced 20/20 vision. Furthermore, 99% of patients said they would be willing to have the surgery again.
The Visian ICLTM is made from Collamer®, a collagen copolymer, specially designed for the highest degree of biocompatibility with the human eye. The Visian ICLTM is foldable, allowing for insertion through a very small incision. The ICL is placed behind the iris and works with the existing natural lens to correct vision.
An FDA-approved ICL is currently available in the United States to treat a wide range of myopia. Any patient interested in a refractive vision correction procedure for nearsightedness has the potential of being a good candidate for ICLs. The ICL refractive procedure is ideal for patients with severe myopia, with dry eye syndrome, or with other contraindications that do not make them good LASIK candidates.
The FDA and American Academy of Ophthalmology have developed guidelines for ICL candidates:
- You should be at least 21 years of age.
- You should have mild, moderate, or severe myopia.
- You should have little or no astigmatism. (We’ll soon have an FDA approved toric ICL to help fix astigmatism)
- You should have a stable vision correction for at least six months.
- You should not have this procedure if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as these conditions can affect eye measurements.
- You will need adequate anterior chamber depth. Your surgeon will determine chamber depth during a comprehensive eye test.
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