Implantable Lenses at a Glance
Implantable Lenses are a vision correction option for those patients who want to see well without relying on glasses and contacts. Also known as Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) or phakic intraocular lenses (IOL), implantable lenses are clear lenses that work within the eye to focus vision, rather than on the surface of the eye like a contact lens. Implantable lenses offer permanent vision correction without additional maintenance apart from annual eye exams. However, if necessary, implantable lenses can be surgically removed.
What vision problems do Implantable Lenses treat?
ICLs and phakic IOLs treat moderate to severe nearsightedness. Some implantable lens technologies can also treat additional astigmatism. Prescription ranges include:
- Nearsightedness (myopia) from -3D to -20 D
- Astigmatism from 1.0 D to 4.0 D
What happens in the Implantable Lens procedure?
After numbing the eye and gently inserting an instrument to keep the eyelids open, a tiny incision, between 3 and 6 mm, is made in the surface of the eye. Through this incision, the surgeon inserts the implantable lens, either behind or in front of the pupil depending on the technology selected. More advanced Implantable Lens technology is typically done with smaller incisions that do not require any stitches. The entire procedure takes approximately 20 minutes, and most people immediately see better with vision improving over the next few days and up to four weeks during the healing process.
Does Implantable Lens surgery hurt?
Numbing eye drops are used and you will likely be offered some medication to help calm your nerves to keep you comfortable during the procedure. After the surgery, the typical experience is some minimal discomfort. Patients report itchiness or a feeling like something is in your eye after the numbing drops wear off. You may be instructed to use over-the-counter pain relievers to help with any mild symptoms. However, you should inform your eye doctor of any significant pain or other bothersome symptoms.
Are you awake during Implantable Lens surgery?
Yes, patients are awake during Implantable Lens surgery. However, the numbing drops and anti-anxiety medication prescribed are designed to make the experience as comfortable and painless as possible. In this way, it is similar to a LASIK experience. The Implantable Lens procedure is performed in a sterile surgical room with draping over the patient face. An eyelid holder is used helps keep the lids open and lashes back so patients don’t have to worry about involuntary blinking. Patients are asked to look into a bright light, which can seem intense, but isn’t painful. Having patients focus this way helps keep the eye still during the procedure.
How effective are Implantable Lenses?
Clinical studies into the visual outcomes from the latest Implantable Lens technology, the ICL, show nearly 100 percent of patients achieve 20/20 or better vision 3 months after the procedure. In fact, 68 percent of patients achieve 20/16 vision at 3 months post op.
More than 300 patients who had ICL procedures three years previously were asked about their level of satisfaction with their visual outcomes:
- 99 percent reported being satisfied with their experience with the ICL procedure
- 97 percent would choose to have the ICL procedure again
- 94 percent were satisfied with the quality of their vision with ICLs
For patients with high myopia, patients often achieve better vision with their ICLs than they had with glasses and even contact lenses.
How do I find out if I’m a good candidate?
There are certain eye measurements your eye surgeon will take as part of your consultation to determine if you are a candidate for Implantable Lenses. Additionally, candidates for Implantable Lenses meet the following eligibility requirements:
Patients 21-45 years of age with healthy eyes and a stable vision prescription for approximately one year within the following prescription ranges are likely candidates for Implantable Lens procedures:
- Correction of myopia with Implantable Lens can be achieved for prescriptions ranging from -3.0 D to less than -15 D with less than 2.5 D of astigmatism.
- Reduction of visual impairment can be achieved for those patients with myopia prescriptions between -15 D and -20 D with less than 2.5 D of astigmatism.
Patients who have been told they are not eligible for laser vision correction procedures such as LASIK and PRK because the prescription is too strong, or the condition of their cornea is too poor, may otherwise be suitable candidates for Implantable Lenses.
Patients who are not suitable for Implantable Lenses include:
- Those who are pregnant or nursing
- Those with chronic, degenerative, or auto immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes and certain medications (steroids, immunosuppressants) that may interfere with the healing process
- Those not in the eligible age range (between 21-45 years old)
- Those with eye anatomy or shape that cannot accommodate an Implantable Lens
Are Implantable Lenses safe?
The FDA clinical investigation into ICL safety showed that serious sight-threatening complications from the procedure are incredibly rare with less than 1 percent of procedures resulting in vision loss of two or more lines on a Snellen Chart.
What are the risks?
Implantable Lens surgery is safe and effective for those who are good candidates. Surgeons closely monitor Implantable Lens patients during the recovery and healing process. In particular, the pressure in the eye is measured repeatedly to protect against vision loss due to glaucoma or cataracts. As with all surgery, there is the risk of rare complications including infection, retinal detachment or loss of corneal cells which can lead to vision loss. However, unlike many forms of vision correction, Implantable Lenses can be surgically removed to assist in addressing any issues.
How do I prepare for Implantable Lens surgery?
If you wear contacts, your surgeon will ask you to stop wearing them for a week or so before the surgery. In addition, you may be asked to come in for a surgical prep appointment 2 – 3 weeks in advance. At this in-office visit, a small opening at the edge of the iris is created to help eye fluid circulate and maintain an appropriate pressure in the eye after the procedure. Eyedrop medication is also prescribed to prepare your eyes for surgery.
Although patients to go home the same day as the procedure, depending upon when the surgery is schedule you may need to take a day or two off work. In addition, you will need to arrange for a ride home from the Implantable Lens procedure.
What is recovery like?
Patients go home the same day as the Implantable Lens procedure. Your eye surgeon will put an eye shield on your face to protect the eye for a day or two. There are routine eye drops to prevent infection, reduce inflammation, and support the healing process. Patients are instructed to avoid rubbing or touching their eyes, as well as avoid lifting anything heavy or doing anything too strenuous until the eyes are healed.
Most patients see better immediately after surgery, but it isn’t unusual for vision to be hazy or blurry. Some patients are more sensitive to light in the first couple of days. While most people can return to work and drive again after a couple of days, it can take a few weeks to recover and completely heal from the Implantable Lens procedure.
Importantly, there will be a few follow up appointments with your eye surgeon during the recovery and healing phase. As healing progresses, your eye surgeon will let you know which activities you can add back into your routine, such as weigh lifting and other strenuous exercise.
How much does Implantable Lens surgery cost?
On average patients can expect to pay between $4,000 – $6,000 per eye for the most advanced implantable lens procedure. Pricing depends on several factors including whether the procedure is performed at the surgeon’s practice or surgery center. Most practices offer payment plans that run about $200 a month.
- Implantable Lenses At A Glance
- What vision problems do Implantable Lenses treat?
- What happens in the Implantable Lens procedure?
- Does Implantable Lens surgery hurt?
- Are you awake during Implantable Lens surgery?
- How effective are Implantable Lenses?
- How do I find out if I’m a good candidate?
- Are Implantable Lenses safe?
- What are the risks?
- How do I prepare for Implantable Lens surgery?
- What is recovery like?
- How much does Implantable lens surgery cost?