Advantageous implantable lenses

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Also called phakic intraocular lenses, surgically implanted lenses are a surgical alternative to LASIK and proved to create better vision results. LASIK removes some tissues from the eye’s cornea to change its shape, but implantable lenses just perform like contact lenses or eyeglasses in refocusing light rays. Unlike IOLs (intraocular lenses) used to replace the natural lens in cataract surgery, implantable lenses act as additional lenses to compensate for biological defects. There are mainly two locations of the eye that can hold implantable lenses: between the cornea and the iris and just behind the iris.

Advantages over contact lenses

Unlike contact lenses, patients can not feel the existence of a phakic IOL after the implantation. This effect is just similar to a dental filling. Implantable lenses have another advantage over contact lenses, that they require no routine maintenance. Implantable lenses can also treat more complex conditions that can not receive proper treatment from other refractive surgeries. People with thin cornea or extremely high myopia are good candidates for implantable lenses.

FDA-approved and off-label products

There are mainly two brands of implantable lenses that are FDA approved in the USA. Received FDA approval in 2004, the Verisyse phakic IOL suits patients over 21 years old. Made partly from collagen, Visian ICL involves smaller surgical entry incisions and quicker recovery. Currently, both of the two types are only approved to treat mild to severe nearsightedness. There are also some clinical trials of the two lenses, aiming at getting further approval for treating hyperopia and astigmatism. AcrySof phakic IOL is also going to apply for FDA approval.

A comparison between Verisyse IOL and Visian ICL

Both the two types of approved implantable lenses have strict procedure steps. Common actions of the two include applying numbing drops, holding eyelids open and making an incision. Differently, the Verisyse is inserted and attached to the iris and the foldable Visian ICL is inserted between the iris and the cornea. Verisyse requires tiny, dissolvable stitches to close the wound while Visian ICL unfolds to its full width after implantation and requires no sutures.

Postoperative care and possible complications

In most cases, implantable lenses bring permanent vision improvement right after the procedure. Patients should get proper rest during the follow-up days after the surgery and they can often resume driving and work within one day. However, the risk of complications also exists. Phakic IOLs may cause complications such as detached retina, cell loss, inflammation, infection and cataracts. Night driving problems and high eye pressure may also occur.

Reversibility makes implantable lenses unique

The good news is that the majority of patients who have received Verisyse lenses or Visian ICL implantable lenses have gained 20/40 vision or better. The most exciting advantage of phakic lenses is that they are reversible. This is really an incomparable merit. As we know, regular laser eye surgeries like LASIK, PRK, and LASEK are irreversible. Once an unwanted problem occurs, making a remedy is hardly possible. Even some cases of permanent visual loss have been reported. Implantable lenses inserted in the eye surgically can be removed or taken out whenever there is a negative effect.