Implantable Contact Lenses
What are Implantable Contact Lenses?
Implantable contact lenses, also known as phakic intraocular lenses, or phakic lenses, are lenses made of plastic or silicone that are implanted into the eye permanently to reduce a person’s need for glasses or contact lenses. Phakic refers to the fact that the lens is implanted into the eye without removing the eye’s natural lens. During phakic lens implantation surgery, a small incision is made in the front of the eye. The phakic lens is inserted through the incision and placed just in front of or just behind the iris.
What is the difference between phakic intraocular lenses and intraocular lenses following cataract surgery?
Phakic intraocular lenses are implanted in the eye without removing the natural lens. This is in contrast to intraocular lenses that are implanted into eyes after the eye’s cloudy natural lens (cataract) has been removed during cataract surgery.
Am I a candidate for the implantable contact lens?
The best candidates for the phakic implants are between the ages of 21 and 50, with moderate to severe nearsightedness. It is best if the candidate has not had any previous ophthalmic surgery and does not have a history of ophthalmic disease such as glaucoma, iritis, or diabetic retinopathy.
What are the advantages of the implantable contact lens?
The implantable contact lenses are capable of correcting a wide range of nearsightedness without the removal of corneal tissue. The Visian lens is a small, foldable, injectable lens that is inserted through a tiny, 3 millimeter incision that does not require sutures. The Verisyse lens is not foldable, and is inserted through a 6 millimeter incision, which is then sutured closed. The implants provide predictable, stable refractive outcomes and excellent quality of vision.
What if a patient’s vision changes?
If there are major changes in vision the implants can usually be removed and replaced, or another procedure, such as Lasik, can usually be performed. With the implantable contact lens, one can still wear glasses or contact lenses if necessary. The phakic implant does not help presbyopia, or the need for reading glasses due to age.
Can they dry out or get dirty like a contact lens?
No. The phakic implants are designed to remain in place within the eye without maintenance. An annual examination done by your ophthalmologist is recommended to make sure that everything is fine.
Can the implantable contact lenses be seen by the naked eye?
The Visian lens cannot be seen inside the eye, except with a special microscope. Because the lens is positioned behind the iris, neither you, nor an observer without a microscope will be able to identify the lens in place. The Verisyse lens, which is placed in front of the iris, does cause reflections that are noticeable to you and to others.
What are the implants made of?
The Visian lens is made from a material called Collamer, a collagen co-polymer that contains a small amount of purified collagen. It is very biocompatible (doesn’t cause a reaction inside the eye). It also contains an ultraviolet light filter. This material is proprietary to STAAR Surgical. The Verisyse lens is made from the same plastic that has been used in other intraocular implants for fifty years. It is also very biocompatible.
What is involved in the implant procedure?
The implant procedure is performed at an outpatient surgicenter, which means that the patient has surgery and leaves the same day. The procedure takes about 30 minutes. Please note that someone will have to drive you to and from surgery. A light anesthetic is administered and there is very little discomfort (and normally no pain) associated with the procedure. Some drops and oral medication may be prescribed and a visit is usually scheduled for the next day.
How long does the implant stay in the eye?
Phakic implants are intended to remain in place without maintenance. If it becomes necessary, for any reason, they can be removed.