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Implantable Contact Lenses - ICLs

Phakic Inter-Ocular Lenses - IOL

Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL) also known as Phakic inter-ocular lenses (IOLs) can correct a wide range of vision errors by permanently inserting an IOL (much like a contact lens) in front of the natural lens of the eye. This new technique is similar to cataract surgery, but the natural lens remains in place so the eye's natural focusing ability is preserved. An implantable contact lens is beneficial because it becomes a permanent fixture of the eye, avoiding time consuming maintenance. They also do not get lost, or have to be replaced like glasses and contact lenses. ICL procedures are being used on severely nearsighted and farsighted patients who may not be candidates for the more common laser procedures such as LASIK, LASEK, and PRK. Unlike laser vision correction procedures that permanently change your vision, it is possible to later remove an ICL. Already, one ICL has been approved by the FDA, with many more ICLs awaiting approval. Talk to your doctor to find out more about FDA approved ICLs.

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How Do ICLs work?

Similar to a contact lens, an ICL reacts with your natural eye to focus. The biggest difference between the two is an ICL is permanently placed in the front chamber of the eye and a contact lens can be inserted or removed at any time. The focusing power of the ICL can be determined so that it closely matches your eye's prescription. With an ICL, surgeons don't have to reshape the cornea. Instead, they make a small incision and inject a lens that can completely correct the vision problem. The clear, oblong implants are about the size of the tip of your pinky and are made of the same plastic used in replacement lenses for patients with cataracts. The lens fits inside the eye, just in front of the pupil. Since the natural lens of the eye is not removed, the patient retains the natural focusing capability of the eye for near focusing tasks.

The Procedure

The implant surgery is quick and painless, lasting only about 20 minutes. You will arrive at the surgery center about an hour prior to your procedure. Once checked in, a sedative may be given as you are prepared for surgery. The area around your eyes will be cleaned and a sterile drape may be applied around your eye. Eye drops or a local anesthetic will be used to numb your eyes. When your eye is completely numb, an eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure. The recovery time is short and the results of the surgery are almost immediate. Most patients resume normal activities within a day or two.

Risk and Complications

Serious complications from ICLs are extremely rare, but like any surgical procedure, it does involve some risk. Besides infection, possible complications include inflammation, increased pressure in the eye and cataract formation. Early studies have shown that all of these are rare, and the plastic used to make the implants has a 50-year track record of safe use in the body.

Am I A Candidate for ICL?

Schedule a complimentary vision consultation with an eye doctor who implants ICLs to find out if you can benefit from implantable contact lenses. After a thorough eye exam, the doctor will let you know if you are a good candidate for this procedure. Good candidates for the ICL procedure:

• want to reduce or eliminate the dependence of reading glasses or bifocals

• are extremely nearsighted or farsighted

• have had a stable eye prescription for at least one year

Early Phakic IOL studies found that 92 percent of patients gained vision of 20/30 or better within a month. Vision of 20/20 is considered excellent, while 20/40 is the cutoff for driving a car without wearing corrective lenses.

This article about the Implantable Contact Lens has been provided courtesy of DoctorDirect.

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