Contact lenses are widely used to correct vision problems. While they prove to be more convenient alternatives to eye glasses, the fact that you need to remove and replace them every so often still make them difficult to use for some people. There are more permanent means of correcting vision problems like laser eye surgeries. However, the costs can be quite high which leads people to still prefer contact lenses.
Current studies show, however, that the inconvenience of having to remove and replace contact lenses may soon be a thing of the past. This is made possible by phakic intraocular lenses – also called phakic IOLs, implantable contact lenses or ICLs. Let’s look at some interesting facts about this technological breakthrough.
What are implantable contact lenses?
• Phakic intraocular lenses are implanted surgically. They are ideal for people who want to permanently correct common vision problems like myopia.
• The lenses are placed in either of the following locations: (a) behind the iris or the colored part of the eye, or (b) between the cornea or the clear lens in front of the eye and the iris. Both have advantages and both have disadvantages.
• In the United States, there are only two brands of phakic intraocular lenses approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Both brands are only approved for treating myopia. Further tests are being conducted to determine if these lenses can be used for other types of vision problems.
- Phakic intraocular lenses resemble contact lenses but the two types of lenses have noticeable differences. The intraocular lenses may also be an alternative to laser eye surgeries. Here are some of their advantages:
- You cannot feel phakic intraocular lenses in your eyes unlike your traditional contact lenses.
- They do not require maintenance as opposed to regular contact lenses.
- In some instances, it yields better results than LASIK. The two procedures change the way light enters your eye. With LASIK, tissue is removed from the cornea to change its shape. On the other hand, these intraocular lenses are like eye glasses that are placed inside your eye to compensate for your vision problems.
- Phakic intraocular lenses resemble intraocular lenses used in cataract surgery but with the former, the natural lens of the eye is retained while such is replaced in the latter since it is cloudy. Phakic intraocular implantable contact lenses are ideal for persons with myopia of between -8.00 and -20.00 diopters or those with thin corneas since other means of correcting vision problems may no longer work for them.
All surgical procedures come with recognized risks. With regard to the implantation of phakic intraocular lenses, complications rarely occur but you should know about them to help you decide whether to undergo the procedure or to stick to your traditional contact lenses. Here are some complications that may occur:
• Inflammation of the eyes
• Detachment of the retina
• Increased pressure inside the eyes or intraocular pressure that can damage the optic nerve of the eye
• Loss of cells in the thin layer found inside the cornea
• Difficulty with driving at night
• Severe vision loss
• Inadequate lens power which may not sufficiently correct your vision problem
• Possibility of seeing halos around lights
As you can see this procedure has quite a few potential issues and should be chosen in consultation with an experienced surgeon to ensure your suitability. The best option for someone in this category is in fact traditional contact lenses that are placed on the outside of the eye and removed every night before going to bed. But not everyone can wear these successfully.
At The Eye Practice we have seen thousands of patients that have had refractive surgery (of which Phakic Intraocular lenses is one type). We understand the pros and cons of all the different procedures and can advise you independently, as we have no financial interest.