An implantable contact lens (ICL), or a Phakic Intraocular Lens, is similar to a traditional over-eye contact lens. Instead of sitting on the outside of the eyes, however, an ICL is surgically placed within the eye. They sit between the iris and the natural lens permanently. ICL eye surgery is used to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (curved cornea).
ICLs operate in much the same way as traditional lenses but without the need to be removed or cleaned. But who is suitable for an implantable contact lens?
ICLs can be an excellent option if you were looking at laser eye surgery but were found unsuitable for a laser-based procedure.
Benefits of ICL Surgery
Implantable contact lenses don’t need to be cleaned. Whilst there is no way to remove them at home, the process is reversible if you need other eye surgery, such as cataract removal. Artificial lenses are built with high UV protection and are known to improve night vision, compared to LASIK for high myopia.
The insertion process does not impact the health or structure of the eye, as other surgeries may. There is no laser-induced dry eye or thinning of the cornea. The incision made to insert the lens is also self-healing.
Implantable contact lenses improve your vision without needing glasses or other intrusive elements. See below for more examples of what a Phakic Intraocular Lens does for suitable candidates.
- Personalised lens placement, as the specific positioning depends on factors like the patient’s refractive error and eye anatomy.
- Preservation of your natural lens. Because ICLs work harmoniously with the eye’s natural lens, your own lens is not removed or altered during the procedure, unlike lens replacement surgery; this makes ICLs reversible, as the implanted lens can be removed if needed.
- Permanent correction. ICLs provide long-lasting vision correction, and the fix remains stable over time. They offer a viable solution for individuals who desire clear vision without needing external eyewear.
- High prescription correction. ICLs are particularly suitable for individuals with high degrees of refractive errors that may exceed the safe limits for other corrective procedures like laser eye surgery (LASIK).
What Are The Risks Of ICL Surgery?
Any kind of eye surgery comes with risk. Implantable contact lenses are no different, and your surgeon will explain the specific potential roadblocks to you.
- Infection is a risk after any surgical procedure, including ICL surgery. Infections occur in 1 in 6,000 cases and can lead to inflammation and vision problems if not promptly treated.
- Some degree of inflammation is common after surgery. While mild inflammation is usually temporary and subsides with time, excessive inflammation can affect vision quality.
- Increased intraocular pressure. ICL surgery can temporarily increase intraocular pressure (IOP), a condition known as intraocular hypertension. This may require close monitoring and management.
- Cataract formation. Because while ICLs are designed to be placed alongside the natural lens, there’s a small risk of cataract formation over time. Cataracts cause lens clouding, leading to vision impairment and the potential need for cataract surgery later on. Fortunately, newer ICL designs have made this a rare complication.
- Glaucoma is a condition characterised by increased pressure within the eye that can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss.
- Corneal endothelial cell damage. The insertion of ICLs can potentially damage the corneal endothelial cells, which hydrate the cornea, leading to corneal swelling and reduced vision. Modern ICL designs appear to have significantly reduced this issue.
It’s important to remember that while these risks exist, many of our patients achieve improved vision and quality of life through implantable contact lenses.
Thorough pre-operative assessments and discussions with an experienced eye surgeon are essential to determine your candidacy and understand the potential benefits and risks of the procedure. Your surgeon can provide personalised guidance based on your specific situation.
In the hands of a safe and experienced provider like Focus Clinics, you can rest assured that the risks are accounted for, and the chance of a problem occurring has reduced significantly.
What Does ICL Surgery Involve?
After an initial consultation to ascertain the nature of your eyes and the right treatment, we may recommend that ICL is best for you.
If ICL is the right path, both eyes can be treated on the same day or within seven days.
You will be given strong anaesthetic and dilating eye drops, and potentially a sedative. The implantable lenses will be folded into an insertion device, and placed into the eye through a small incision (less than 3mm). It will then be rotated into the correct position.
You will be kept under observation for a few hours, to ensure that your vision and eye pressure are correct. Another check-up will be performed the following day, and you will also be prescribed a round of steroid and antibiotic eye drops to enable healing.
Am I Suitable For An Implantable Contact Lens?
Implantable contact lens (ICL) surgery can be a suitable option for a range of individuals seeking vision correction.
However, suitability for implantable contact lenses depends on several factors, and a comprehensive evaluation by an experienced eye surgeon at Focus Clinics is essential to determine candidacy.
- Refractive errors. Implantable contact lenses are primarily used to correct moderate to high degrees of refractive errors, including myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.
- Ideal candidates are typically adults between the ages of 21 and 45. ICLs are also approved for short-sighted patients up to age 60. The eye’s growth and stability are important factors in determining candidacy.
- High prescription. Implantable contact lens surgery is often considered for individuals with high refractive errors that exceed the safe limits for other corrective procedures like LASIK or PRK.
- Candidates with thin corneas, which can disqualify them from laser eye surgeries, might find ICL surgery a suitable alternative. Implantable contact lenses are positioned inside the eye and do not require corneal tissue removal.
- Individuals with chronic dry eyes, which can affect the healing process after LASIK or PRK, might still be eligible for an implantable contact lens. You will still likely need dry eye treatment before a vision correction procedure.
- Candidates seeking correction for presbyopia (difficulty focusing on near objects due to age) can consider implantable contact lenses.
- Candidates should have healthy eyes and a stable prescription without significant eye diseases or conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, or severe retinal problems.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals are generally advised to wait until after this period before considering any elective surgery.
It’s important to note that each individual’s eyes and needs are unique. A thorough evaluation by an experienced eye surgeon is necessary to determine candidacy. During the evaluation, your surgeon will assess your eye health, refractive error, corneal thickness, and other factors to provide personalised recommendations. We will also discuss the potential benefits, risks, and alternatives to help you make an informed decision about your implantable contact lens.
Why Choose Focus Clinics?
Focus Clinics are specialists in outstanding results. For example, we have a unique 100% success rate for 20/20 vision for short-sighted LASIK. This impeccable record is important to us — a 98% success rate is no good if you fall into that unlucky 2%.
We work hard to ensure that your eyes are healthy, as shown by a 5/5 top rating on TrustPilot. That’s the highest trust rating out of every ‘eye treatment’ clinic.